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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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(p.45) 2 Manon
French Opera at the Fin de Siecle

Steven Huebner

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the collaboration between Massenet and Carvalho of the Opéra-Comique. According to Édouard NoËl, then an administrative assistant at that theatre, it was Carvalho who first thought of a Manon based upon Abbé Prévost's famous 18th-century novel Histoire du Chevalier Des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut. The occasion was an Opéra-Comique gala on 30 January 1882 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Auber's birth. The idea for a new work on the subject supposedly hit Carvalho during the resounding ovation after the piece. He immediately approached Massenet. On 2 February Hartmann drew up a contract for delivery of a libretto by 1 March with two writers who had just paired up: Philippe Gille, co-librettist for Delibes's recent success Lakmé, and Henri Meilhac of Carmen fame. On 19 January 1884, the curtain rose on what became one of the most successful operas in the entire French repertory.

Keywords:   Carvalho, Opéra-Comique, Abbé Prévost, Auber, Massenet

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