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University of California Press
The Keys to French Opera in the Nineteenth Century / Edition 1

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

by Hervé Lacombe, Edward SchneiderHervé Lacombe


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520217195
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 01/12/2001
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 442
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 
Preface to the English Edition 
Part 1 Genesis, Performance, and Reception
1 The Genesis of an Opera 
2 Performance 
3 Reception 
Part 2 Drama, Poetry, and Music 
4 The Construction of a Drama 
5 Space and Time 
6 Poetic Expression and Musical Expression 
Part 3 French Opera: Society, Genre, and Aesthetics
7 The Parisian Operatic World 
8 Genre 
9 The Aesthetic Foundations of Nineteenth-Century French Opera 
Appendix 1 The Sources of Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de perles 
Appendix 2 The Versions of Les Pêcheurs de perles 
Appendix 3 Several States of the Beginning of the Act 2 Finale 
Appendix 4 Passages Cut in the Course of Performance 
Appendix 5 Performances and Daily Box-Office Receipts of the Théâtre-Lyrique,September 27–November 28, 1863 
Appendix 6 The Staging of Les Pêcheurs de perles 
Appendix 7 Symmetrical Versification and Reformulation of the Text 
Biographical Notes on Composers 

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