Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Chat Noir, Oslo

Chat Noir was established as a cabaret in 1912 in the Tivoli building by singer Bokken Lasson and her husband, writer Vilhelm Dybwad, modelled after the Paris cabaret Le Chat Noir from the 19th century.

During a visit to Paris in the early 1890s, Bokken Lasson had found the inspiration of her life. She experienced the literary cabarets of the time, and performers such as Yvette Guilbert. The next years she toured European cities, wearing a self-composed costume, singing gypsy songs and playing lute, performing on the street, at restaurants, cabarets and occasionally in musical comedies. Bokken Lasson managed the cabaret from 1912 to 1917.

Chat Noir became a cultural meeting place, with the artists Christian and Oda Krohg (Bokken's sister) as leading figures. Their son Per Krohg painted the first decorations. To begin with Chat Noir was a literary cabaret. Herman Wildenvey and Arnulf Øverland contributed with poetry, Vilhelm Dybwad composed melodies, and Bokken Lasson was singing. In 1913 the first revue, called 1913, was played at Chat Noir. In 1916 Lalla Christensen was introduced, singing children's songs.

Victor Bernau led the theatre from 1920 to 1928, and during this period Chat Noir won its reputation as a modern revue theatre. Johan Henrik Wiers-Jenssen took over as manager from 1926, with Bernau as artistical director during the early years.

Lowry refers to the cabaret in his novel Ultramarine; "the Nationaltheatret or the Circus or the Chat Noir?" (Pg. 68). There is no record of Lowry visiting the Chat Noir.

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