Yvonne Constant, the French chanteuse, is a walking example of understated chic.  She’'s a slender— remnant of her ballet career —and soignée but warm and funny, too.  Her program at the Metropolitan Room continued her very casual history of France in song, this time taking us from the student revolt of 1968 to 1995 and the death of François Mitterand.  Wearing a short sparkly dress with daring side slits, she exuded a perky sexiness, beginning her program with the odd choice of “La Marseillaise” in a version that was less patriotic than tongue in chic.

Her melodic parade through the decades included songs by— amongst others —Gilbert Becaud, Joe Dassin (Jules’ son), Jacques Brel and numbers associated with Melina Mercouri and the Egyptian-French singer Dalida, telling moving tales of each artist between the songs. What was amazing was how many American standards, such as “My Way,” “It Must Be Him,” “One of Those Songs,” all began as French pop songs, most with totally different meanings and storylines.  Ms. Constant did both versions sometimes, and the French were by far the more subtle and emotional.

Her music director/accompanist Russ Kassoff often joined in the singing and added a dry wit to Ms. Constant’'s gaiety.  Her voice wasn’'t large, but she filled the Metropolitan Room using her acting skills and her charming ability related to everyone in the room.

Watching Yvonne Constant in action is to witness a woman in love with her craft and her audience and a singer in the long line of French artists such as Chevalier and Piaf.  Mostly she creates a little bit of quiet, civilized elegance, something in short supply nowadays.