On April 19, 2008, at 20: 30 pm a show entitled Il Profumo della Belle Epoque will take place in Rome, Italy. It is dedicated to recapturing the olfactory atmosphere of the Belle Epoque as experienced by spectators sitting in the atmosphere of a Parisian café in the 1890s, witnessing the boulevardiers getting émus, scenes of everyday life while listening to music and above all, smelling the perfumes of the Belle Epoque, "an era in which even words and gestures were scented"......
It is the fourth installment in the larger event dedicated to the Five Senses by the Associazione Culturale Ars Major directed by Carlo Alberto Gioja and Raffaella Marzullo.
Sabato 19 Aprile 2008 - ore 20.30
Teatro San Vincenzo pallotti
Via Matteo Tondi, 81
Roma (quartiere Pietralata)
Read more in Il Profumo della Belle Epoque
And here are tow excerpts from Theodore Child's "Characteristic Parisian Cafés" published April 1889, which offers an idea of this olfactory atmosphere:
All these novel types, and all the amusing accessories of a Parisian café - the tables, the newspapers fixed on sticks, the water bottles, the glasses, the foaming bocks, the steaming plates of sauerkraut - all help to form a curious vision of souvenirs in the brain of the observer, admirably prepared for dreaming by repeated stations in an atmosphere impregnated with the mixed perfumes of tobacco and onion soup, which are the dominant elements in the characteristic odor of a Parisian beer saloon of an evening. […..]
There remains only one type of café still to be noticed, namely, the café-concert, which is the French equivalent for the Anglo-Saxon music hall. The type might furnish the material for a long study, of interest from many points of view; for of late years the cafés-concerts have become the most popular form of amusement in Paris, and absorbed a large part of the public which used to support the theatres. And yet anything more inept and stupid than a French music hall it would be difficult to conceive. Why people go to them I cannot explain, unless it be because some mysterious destiny forces mankind in general to seek distraction perpetually, and the Frenchman in particular, to escape from the ennui of his own fireside.
And so the cafés-concerts, which abound particularly in the commercial quarters of Paris, are always crowded; the shopkeepers of the neighborhood, their wives and their daughters, their cook-maids and their clerks, patronize them steadily night after night. In serried ranks they sit, packed literally so closely that they cannot move their legs six inches in any direction; in front of the seats is a narrow ledge on which is placed the "consommation" of each visitor - cherries preserved in eau-de-vie, coffee, beer, peppermint, or red currant syrup; with their hats on or off, the men smoke at their ease. As the evening advances the atmosphere of the hall becomes more and more hot and foul, the audience more and more swarming and more and more perspiring; the flaring gas jets become gradually obscured by the thick blue fog of smoke; while on the stage the lean and hoarse-voiced cantatrice, with awkward angular gestures, screams, over the bald heads of the musicians in the orchestra, the senseless refrain of some popular absurdity; or of some sentimental romance. "