The Little Prince heads a contingent of all things French at the Voilah! festival

(From left) Mr Nicolas Delsalle-Mun, secretarygeneral of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Youth Foundation; Mr Olivier d'Agay, great-nephew of Saint-Exupery; and artists Arnaud and Adeline Nazare-Aga are in Singapore for the festival.
(From left) Mr Nicolas Delsalle-Mun, secretarygeneral of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Youth Foundation; Mr Olivier d'Agay, great-nephew of Saint-Exupery; and artists Arnaud and Adeline Nazare-Aga are in Singapore for the festival.
-- PHOTOS: TIFFANY GOH, BRIAN SKERRY, SING'THEATRE, SWS CITY SWING, DOULCE MEMOIRE, INSTITUT FRANCAIS, ANNE VALLUY, O’BATIGNOLLES, FRANCOISE ALMERAS
-- PHOTOS: TIFFANY GOH, BRIAN SKERRY, SING'THEATRE, SWS CITY SWING, DOULCE MEMOIRE, INSTITUT FRANCAIS, ANNE VALLUY, O’BATIGNOLLES, FRANCOISE ALMERAS

Enjoy all things French - from food to music to The Little Prince - at the Voilah! festival

Fans of the 1940s children's classic The Little Prince may already be looking forward to the film adaptation of their beloved book, but ahead of that, there are two upcoming exhibitions to satisfy their Prince-related cravings.

The first is The Little Prince Art Collection, an exhibition at the Fullerton Hotel of handpainted fibreglass sculptures featuring characters from the book, such as the titular alien prince.

Also expect to see the Prince's wise friend, Fox, as well as his one true love from his home asteroid, Rose.

Based on French author Antoine de Saint- Exupery's original watercolour drawings, these sculptures were created by artist Arnaud Nazare-Aga from Thailand-based PAJ'Art Studio. The works were commissioned by the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Youth Foundation and visitors can view them from now till May 31.

One of the novella's iconic phrases is "One sees clearly only with the heart". Well, at the other Little Prince exhibition, visitors can try seeing with their hands.

In The Little Prince In The Dark exhibition, running till June 20 at the Alliance Francaise, visitors are plunged into the dark and have to make out the details of the same sculptures by touch.

A sensor detecting movement will then play audio clips narrating the corresponding parts of the book, either in English, French or Mandarin. Listen closely for the voice of the English narrator, who is American actor Richard Gere.

These activities are part of the Voilah! French festival in Singapore, which aims to promote French culture, arts, gastronomy and innovations in science and environmental issues here.

Other highlights include a food festival involving 65 food and beverage establishments selling and promoting French cuisine; a concert featuring French cabaret singer Edith Piaf's songs; and a concert that aims to transport its audience into a Renaissance-era celebration in the French royal courts.

Voilah!, which started on Monday and runs till June 21, is organised by the French Embassy and the Institut Francais Singapour, in partnership with the French Chamber of Commerce. There are more than 40 programmes over the seven weeks.

While Singapore celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year, Voilah! celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and France by making this year's festival its biggest edition yet.

Started in 2007, the festival was last held in 2012, but its organisers say they have plans to make it a yearly affair once again.

"This year marks a fresh start," says Mr Benjamin Dubertret, Ambassador of France to Singapore. "With the many partners in the French and Singaporean communities, the festival is a multi-institutional effort to be a meeting point for everyone who appreciates or wants to know more about the French way of life."

Voilah! is the largest foreign cultural festival in Singapore and, unlike other festivals here, does not focus just on the arts or a format such as film.

Instead, its focus is very diverse, with exhibitions about the environment held at Gardens by the Bay and the ArtScience Museum. There was even a conference about space exploration on Tuesday, presided by Claudie Haignere, the first European female astronaut in space.

But events promoting French arts and culture still comprise the bulk of the programming, with an animated film festival held at the end of this month and free music performances at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Mr Wee Jia Yi, 20, who is waiting to enlist for national service, has never been to Voilah! before, but will do so this year because of The Little Prince shows. He first read a Chinese version of the story in primary school.

He says: "The story is so simple yet exquisite - it transcends its category as children's literature. Seeing the sculptures would literally provide a threedimensional perspective of the story and the magnificent author."

nabilahs@sph.com.sg


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THE LITTLE PRINCE ART COLLECTION

Meet The Little Prince, as well as his friends the Fox and the Lamplighter, in this exhibition of 10 hand-painted figurines based on the illustrations in the beloved children's book by Antoine de SaintExupery.

The fibreglass sculptures, created by artists Arnaud and Adeline Nazare-Aga from Thailand-based PAJ'Art Studio, required 10 layers of lacquer and hours of hand-polishing to achieve the glossy look of Saint-Exupery's original watercolour drawings.

Also check out rare manuscripts of the 1943 book and its first editions, from the private collection of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Youth Foundation. There is also a small exhibition on the history of airmail service by French company Latecoere (the predecessor of Aeropostale), which features black-and-white photos of 1920s pioneers of the aviation industry, including Saint-Exupery, who was also a pilot.

Where: Fullerton Hotel, East Garden Foyer Gallery

When: Till May 31

Admission: Free

Info: www.facebook.com/voilah or www.voilah.sg


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THE LITTLE PRINCE IN THE DARK

This special exhibition in the dark allows visitors to experience the classic tale using their sense of touch and hearing. Visitors can feel the 13 sculptures of the story's characters while listening to audio guides that are available in English, Mandarin and French.

The first edition of aBraille version of the book, which comes with illustrations done in relief, will also be on show. The exhibition is held in collaboration with the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped.

Where: Alliance Francaise, Societe Generale Gallery, 1 Sarkies Road

When:Till June 20

Admission: Free

Info: www.facebook.com/voilah or www.voilah.sg


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PLANET OCEAN EXHIBITION

A showcase of aerial and underwater photographs by French photographer and film-maker Yann Arthus-Bertrand and National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry. Also catch a free screening of Planet Ocean (2012), a 90-minute documentary featuring extreme geographical conditions on Earth, directed by Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot. The film won the award for Best Cinematography at Blue Ocean Film Festival 2012.

Where: Gardens by the Bay, The Colonnade

When: Exhibition, till June 28, daily till 11pm. Screening of Planet Ocean, tonight, 8pm, Supertree Grove Lawn

Admission: Free

Info: www.gardensbythebay.com.sg


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VOILAH FRENCH FOOD FESTIVAL

Sixty-five eateries are offering special promotions during the festival, including restaurants, retail outlets, bakeries and bars. Participating outlets include Tiong Bahru Bakery by Gontran Cherrier, O'Batignolles, 31 Bar & Kitchen and The Wine Apprentice by Sommelier Stephanie Rigourd at Hilton Hotel.

Where: 65 outlets around Singapore

When: Till June 21

Info: www.facebook.com/voilahfff2015


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FRENCH ANIMATION FILM FESTIVAL

Catch six French animated movies in this fourth edition of the film festival, including Aya Of Yop City (2013), a French graphic novel-turned-film set in Yopougon, a city in the Ivory Coast, about the adventures of 19-year-old Aya and her two girlfriends. The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 39th Cesar Awards. After the screening, there will be an African party with food and music. Families with younger children can opt for Oggy And The Cockroaches (2013), which follows the adventures of a blue cat as he battles his enemies, which happen to be roaches.

Where: Alliance Francaise Theatre, 1 Sarkies Road

When: May 22 to 24

Admission: $12 to $18 (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

Info: www.alliancefrancaise.org.sg


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GEORGE & THE MUSIC BOX

This 90-minute children's show by Bellepoque introduces the fables of 17th-century French poet Jean de la Fontaine. In the play, a descendant of La Fontaine called Emily introduces her son George to his ancestor's work through bedtime stories. At night, his toys - a bear, soldier and doll - bring these fables to life with music and games. Staged in English and French, with English surtitles, the play is suitable for children aged six and older.

Where: Esplanade Recital Studio

When: Thursday to May 16, 8pm

Admission: $49 (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

Info: www.bellepoque.com.sg


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LA VIE EN ROSE - THE CONCERT

To celebrate 100 years since the birth of French singer Edith Piaf, Sing'theatre is presenting a 90-minute musical journey through contemporary interpretations of her songs, including the 1946 hit La Vie En Rose. Local thespians such as Lim Kay Siu and Sebastian Tan will perform alongside foreign faces such as Cirque du Soleil vocalist L.A. Benjamin.

Where: Victoria Theatre

When: May 27 to 30, 8pm

Admission: $45 to $80 (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

Info: www.singtheatre.com


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TWO SINGAPORE MONODRAMAS

French translations of two classic Singapore plays, The Coffin Is Too Big For The Hole by Kuo Pao Kun and Emily Of Emerald Hill by Stella Kon, come to Singapore after having been performed in several French cities since March. Translated and directed by French theatre director and playwright Marc Goldberg, these dramatised readings will be performed in French, without surtitles, by French actors.

There will also be a post-show talk in English about this project by Kon and local playwright Robert Yeo.

Where: National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre

When: May 21, 8 to 11pm

Admission: $10

Info: peatix.com/event/88125


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FETE ROYALE

Be transported to the 16th-century French royal courts of King Francois I in this enactment of the Magnificences, a court festival that features lavish and spectacular entertainment.

Performed by the French music ensemble Doulce Memoire, the show features Renaissance-era costumes, songs, dances and acrobatics.

Where: Victoria Theatre

When: June 6

Admission: $35 to $75 (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

Info: www.facebook.com/voilah or www.voilah.sg


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FETE DE LA MUSIQUE

To round off the festival, a series of free music performances will be held at three venues in tandem with Fete de la Musique, or World Music Day, on June 21.

Started in 1982 in Paris, the wildly successful Fete de la Musique is celebrated in more than 100 countries today.

Where: Singapore General Hospital Campus, Singapore Botanic Gardens and Alliance Francaise

When: June 19, 10am to 8pm (Singapore General Hospital); June 20, 4.30 to 11pm (Alliance Francaise); June 21, 5 to 7pm (Singapore Botanic Gardens)

Admission: Free

Info: www.facebook.com/voilah or www.voilah.sg