- Les Abencérages ou Létendard de Grenade, opera-ballet in 3 acts
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Cherubini: Les Abencerages based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
It is difficult for me to restrain my enthusiasm for the underrated Luigi Cherubini. The descriptive word for his Medee is drama, for Les deux journees, wholesomeness and for Les Abencerages, nobility. At this point grand opera turns altogether grand. The consistent element in all Cherubini's work is a distinctive purity of spirit. It is easy to see why this composer turned to religious masses in the years following Waterloo. He strikes me as the musical counterpart to the cultural revivalist of French Christianity Chateaubriand. Without him, opera between 1790 and 1830 would be impoverished of its full dignity despite Beethoven's effort in Fidelio to follow the same high road. Les Abencerages is so noble that it is not even necessary to follow the libretto to enjoy its dignified beauty. The mere sound of the music is edifying. I cannot imagine anything nobler than the preparations for war in the seventh scene of Act I. The grandeur of the finale of this act defies description. In Act II the heroine Noraime and a female chorus are caught up in the same patriotic fervor as the men. As the scene shifts to the famous Alhambra Palace, the males of both Moorish tribes, Zegris and Abencerages, join in a moving song "O victoire fatale." Almanzor has defeated the Spaniards but has somehow lost the vital standard-- the "depot sacre"-- "notre sacre banniere." Even when the music turns frankly elegiac in the choral "Grand Dieu! Quel triste journee," the "Grand Dieu" does not withdraw His presence from the music and the result is something like Wagner or elegiac Verdi.