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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.82) 4 Esclarmonde
French Opera at the Fin de Siecle

Steven Huebner

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Massenet' Esclarmonde. It begins with a discussion of the meaning of Esclarmonde's veil. It then assesses the claim that the Esclarmonde libretto itself is Wagnerian. Esclarmonde came to be seen as a brief Wagnerian phase in Massenet's output, just as in La Navarraise he had dabbled in verismo, hoping to tap the vein of success mined by Mascagni, and in Cendrillon he had supposedly followed in the footsteps of Humperdinck's HÄnsel und Gretel. With recurring motifs teeming in and around small closed forms, Esclarmonde succeeded in alienating both Wagnerian progressives and conservative reviewers.

Keywords:   Massenet, French opera, veil, Wagner, verismo, Esclarmonde

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