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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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Around an American Muse

Around an American Muse

(p.73) 3 Around an American Muse
French Opera at the Fin de Siecle

Steven Huebner

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on American soprano, Sibyl Sanderson. By the beginning of 1884 Massenet's pre-eminence on the French operatic stage was established. Manon drew well after its premiere on 19 January. Less than two weeks later, Hérodiade appeared in Paris for the first time during a season organized by the singer-impresario Victor Maurel at the Théâtre-Italien. However, the Hérodiade performances soon became smothered by a contract dispute between Fidès Devriès, the Salomé of the production, and Maurel. Manon was given seventy-eight times at the Opéra-Comique in 1884, but then disappeared long enough for Massenet to refer to performances in the late autumn of 1885 as a ‘reprise’ in a letter to Philippe Gille. Marie Heilbronn sang the title role ten more times at the house before the end of the year and then left for vacation. She died suddenly on 31 March 1886, after a brief illness, and Manon promptly fell from Opéra-Comique playbills. It took a performer of real star status to resurrect the work in Paris — American soprano Sibyl Sanderson — whom Massenet prided himself in his memoirs on having discovered at a musical soirée in 1887.

Keywords:   Massenet, Sibyl Sanderson, Manon, French opera, soprano

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