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French Opera at the Fin de Siecle$
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Steven Huebner

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189544

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189544.001.0001

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Édouard Lalo: Wagnerian malgré lui

Édouard Lalo: Wagnerian malgré lui

(p.231) 14 Édouard Lalo: Wagnerian malgré lui
French Opera at the Fin de Siecle

Steven Huebner

Oxford University Press

In a brief note thanking the critic Pierre Lalo for a favourable review of La Damoiselle élue in 1900, Debussy laid a wreath on the ballet score Namouna composed by his father Edouard, not given integrally since its first run at the Opéra in 1882. He recalled being thrown out of the august house ‘for having too boisterously demonstrated my admiration for that delicate masterpiece’. Debussy's provocative attitude caused such a furore that at the request of some abonnés the box ordinarily reserved for Conservatoire students remained closed to members of the composition class for months to come. Namouna had already been attacked by many conservative reviewers before its première. On opening night the orchestra appeared uninvolved, even unruly, and certain members of the audience were obviously hostile. Because of this, the score became something of a cause célèbre among the young generation of French composers at the fin de siècle. This chapter focuses on how Namouna gave rise to so much negative publicity. It appears that Lalo's reputation as a supposedly ‘Wagnerian symphonist’ was an important factor.

Keywords:   Debussy, Namouna, Pierre Lao, Wagnerism, Debussy

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