24 Jan 2017

The Tradition of the Café Chantant

The Café Chantant

The history of cafè chantant has its roots in the distant Paris of the eighteenth century, in an era when the city becomes the center of attraction of the Belle Epoque and a renewed atmosphere of well-being pushes people to seek recreation and beauty everywhere.

The first shows are not distinguished by a particular attention to the scenography, whose importance is underestimated in favor of other aspects, but with the passage of time, when the tradition of Café Chantat spreads in Paris and in other European cities, the competition increases and the locals go to “hunt” the most beautiful and desired clowns of the city.

So the cafes begin to be decorated by artists of great renown such as Vincent Van Gogh, George Braques, Cezanne and Modigliani, and the atmosphere gradually becomes more and more refined, perfect for that elite who discovers the beauty of being entertained delicious places.

The Neapolitan tradition of the Café Chantant

The Café Chantant is a prominent show of the Neapolitan theater that has learned the best from the tradition of Parisian origin and has developed its own distinctive characteristics, making it a unique experience in the world.

In the Neapolitan version the “Parisian chanteuse” turns into the “Neapolitan sciantosa” and the Neapolitan cafes open the doors to the most fascinating artists of the city, offering customers a high level musical entertainment. To be represented, in fact, they are no longer simple motivations but arias drawn from the most famous operas of the time, interpreted by singers who seduce the whole audience with their charm.

The term “sciantosa” designates the so-called femme fatale, the sensual woman with encroaching limbs that makes the public go crazy with her woes and has a voice out of the ordinary. The sciantosa par excellence is beautiful, graceful in the bearing and mysterious in the look, has a foreign accent and an intriguing past to tell, made of love stories full of passion and melancholy. The wealthiest perform with a personal claquer behind them, that is, an audience ready to applaud at the end of the exhibition and to involve the spectators to make the atmosphere of the room warmer. In this way they become famous and sought after in all the premises of the city and turn into icons of charm and style


The Café Chantant at the Gambrinus

The tradition of the Café Chantant, following the wake of the enormous French success, arrives in Naples in the nineteenth century and the Gambrinus is one of the first places to open its doors, becoming a meeting place essential for the refined Neapolitan nobility. Here are followed by intellectuals and artists of great depth, such as Gabriele D’Annunzio, Matilde Serao, Salvatore Di Giacomo, Libero Bovio, Benedetto Croce and Eduardo De Filippo, who contribute to writing and enriching the history of the place.

A moment of difficulty occurred during the Second World War, when the room was reduced to a small room because it was considered a den of anti-fascists. However, with the Sergio family, the current Gambrinus managers, the closed rooms are recovered and Naples definitively finds one of the first and most prestigious Cafè chantant in Italy.

Even today this show in music is repeated in the golden rooms of Gambrinus, those in which you can breathe the magic of the Neapolitan Belle Epoque and it is its sweet anachronistic atmosphere, which preserves the beauty of the past but does not close before modernity, to make the Gambrinus is an extremely fascinating reality.