The Keys to French Opera in the Nineteenth Century / Edition 1

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Overview

The "keys" provided by Hervé Lacombe in this richly informed book open the door to understanding the essence of nineteenth-century French lyric theater. Lacombe illuminates the diverse elements that constitute opera by focusing his investigation around three main categories: composition and production; words, music, and drama; and the interaction of society, genre, and aesthetics.

Lacombe chooses Bizet's Pearl Fishers (1863) as the exemplar of French opera that combines tradition and innovation. He uses Pearl Fishers as a paradigmatic point of reference for exploring questions of genesis, style, and aesthetic in other nineteenth-century French operatic works. French opera was a social art, he writes, and looping between past and future, between tradition and innovation, it achieved the seemingly impossible union of two antithetical aspects of Romanticism: the taste for theatricality and the desire for intimacy.

The voices of contemporary witnesses are heard throughout Lacombe's book. He makes abundant use of the writings of such musician-critics as Berlioz, Reyer, and Saint-Saëns and also draws on the works of many French writers, including Stendhal, Balzac, Baudelaire, and Zola. Illustrations showing costume sketches, scenery, posters, paintings, photographs, and magazine articles are attractive complements to discussions of particular operas. Together with Edward Schneider's accessible translation, the illustrations make this well-rounded and original study a trove of information for both music scholars and French historians.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520217195
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 1/12/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 442
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Hervé Lacombe teaches at the University of Metz. He is working on another book about Bizet. Edward Schneider lives in New York and is a translator specializing in works about music and food.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface to the English Edition
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Genesis, Performance, and Reception
1 The Genesis of an Opera 9
2 Performance 33
3 Reception 67
Pt. 2 Drama, Poetry, and Music 83
4 The Construction of a Drama 87
5 Space and Time 120
6 Poetic Expression and Musical Expression 144
Pt. 3 French Opera: Society, Genre, and Aesthetics
7 The Parisian Operatic World 209
8 Genre 226
9 The Aesthetic Foundations of Nineteenth-Century French Opera 252
Conclusion 303
App. 1 The Sources of Bizet's Les Pecheurs de perles 311
App. 2 The Versions of Les Pecheurs de perles 314
App. 3 Several States of the Beginning of the Act 2 Finale 318
App. 4 Passages Cut in the Course of Performance 320
App. 5 Performances and Daily Box-Office Receipts of the Theatre-Lyrique, September 27-November 28,1863 322
App. 6 The Staging of Les Pecheurs de perles 325
App. 7 Symmetrical Versification and Reformulation of the Text 328
Biographical Notes on Composers 331
Notes 353
Index 397
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