French opera Part 3

The second experience Milhaud in the genre of “Christopher Columbus” (1930). It is a Grand composition of the twenty seven paintings in two acts. Throughout the action the reader reads the “book of history” and the gallery in the auditorium, to comment on it. In the choir, as a witness of his own life, is Columbus. A prerequisite of performance is the movie screen which shows the real exotic landscapes and authentic sea storms, which tells the narrator.

The American theme continued to worry Millau and after “Columbus”. In 1932 took place in Paris a performance of his new Opera “Maximilian” in the drama of Franz Warfile “Juarez and Maximilian”, and in 1943 Milhaud composed the Opera “Bolivar” (drama by J. Supervielle). Both works are related by theme and the material (the struggle of Latin American peoples against colonization and revolutionary struggle), something reminiscent of the Opera Meyerbeer scribe, namely his “cheap popular interpretation of the historical story in the style of the lithographs for the people”.

On the eve of the second world war in the Comic Opera of Paris staged an Opera Millau “Esther of Carpentras”, and two weeks before the occupation “Medea” in “Grand Oner”.

The only major work for musical theater in the postwar creativity Millau Opera “David” (19251954), set in Jerusalem, translated into Hebrew language on the occasion of the 3000 anniversary of the city of Jerusalem. This Opera mystery in five acts on the famous Bible story (libretto by Armand Lunel). Epically harsh choruses are interspersed with dramatic scenes (the victory of David over Absalom) and lyrical episodes (the lament of David over dead Saul and Jonathan).

A major contribution to Opera and French culture of the XX century was made by the Swiss Arthur Honegger (1892-1955). His work is of great importance stage works mixed form: “the monumental murals”, “King David” “Joan of Arc at the stake”, “Dance of the dead”.

“King David” (1921) Opera Oratorio for choir, orchestra and reciter on the biblical story (the same as in the abovementioned Opera Millau). Honegger interprets the biblical legend in the tradition of the gospel the Passions of Bach and oratorios of Handel with them, too, mostly of biblical scenes.

“Judith” (1925), a biblical drama with text by R. Morax, continues and develops Opera Ortho Ready the form of “King David”, but is closer to Opera (no declaimer and speech dialogue, the second edition of a work has the subtitle “Opera”).

The third stage work of Honegger’s Opera “Antigone” text by Jean Konto (1927), which premiered at the Paris Comic Opera in 1943, Like the “Happen soon” by Jean Anouilh Opera was in occupation of the antifascist manifestation of the popular front. Honegger Konto and went towards modernizing the plot, forms the ideological concept of ancient tragedy, as opposed to styling trends that found expression in “King Oedipus” by Stravinsky (also a text of Cocteau, 1927) and “Happen soon” by C. Orff (1949).

The next and Central in its significance dramatic Honegger’s oratorio “Joan of Arc at the stake” was created in cooperation with the major contemporary French playwright P. Codelen (1938). The authors called this work a mystery, bearing in mind the religious and secular views, which were played on the squares of French cities in the middle ages.

The song “Joan of Arc at the stake” is very original. The main role performed as a dramatic actress. In the national choral scene character not really involved: it’s her memories, impressions of the recent past. The events follow chronologically in reverse order.

Tied to a post Jeanne, at the feet of which has already complicated the fire of the Inquisition, hear the cries of the excited crowd gathered to watch the burning of “witches” plays mentally a meeting of the Church court sentenced her to death, remembers the coronation in Reims, the joy of the people on the occasion of the victory over the British and even quite distant picture of her childhood in the village. After each new episode of memories returned terrible reality: Jeanne tied to a pole, awaiting execution.

It is multifaceted, rich in contrasts work includes Symphony of the episodes, and vivid genre paintings, I have spoken dialogues, and choruses. The musical material is highly varied: here and music high symphonic style (prologue), and stylized dance (in the allegorical scene of playing cards), and diverse development of folk song melodies (“Trimat”, “Lenskie bells”), and Gregorian chant.

There are often repeated and characteristic sound symbols (the howl of dogs, the singing of the Nightingale, jingle bells, imitating the roar of a donkey and bleating sheep). In the oratory contradictory combination of the tragic and the farcical, historical and contemporary. Honegger was particularly concerned about the accessibility and immediacy of impact “Jeanne at the stake”. It was intended for performance in France in 1938 and lived up to its purpose. After the premiere on 12 may 1938 in Basel oratorio was performed in dozens of southern French cities, and after his Release was put on the stage of the Parisian “Grand Opera”.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) was the most significant Opera composer of France in the postwar years. Before his interest in musical theater was moderate. In 1947 on the stage of the Parisian Comic Opera was his operator “Chest Tiresia” (the play by G. Apollinaire). The music of Poulenc here full of genuine fun, but it’s not graceful gaiety, and a light Comedy, it is rather grotesque in the spirit of Rabelais. The Opera was sung by Denise Duval, who since then became the best female performer of parties of all three operas Poulenc. Her remarkable voice and a rare artistic personality was for the composer a sort of measure and sample, when he worked on a monologue one act Opera “The Human voice” and “Dialogues des Carmelites”.

“The human voice” to the text the dramatic scenes of Jean Konto put was Comic Opera, in 1959, this one act Opera, a woman abandoned by her lover, speaks to him on the phone last time. The next day he ought to marry. The conversation is often interrupted. The exhilaration and despair of women is growing: she pretends to be happy, then cries and admits to having already tried to commit suicide. Scene lasts 45 minutes.

The composer as a true master of vocal composition was able to overcome the danger of the monotony of long monologue and the same type. The vocals in the melodic recitative comes from “Pelleas and Melisande” by Debussy, but it has something in common with Puccini’s Opera in the Arioso episodes.

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