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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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Massenet Emasculated

Massenet Emasculated

(p.160) 8 Massenet Emasculated
French Opera at the Fin de Siecle

Steven Huebner

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on criticisms against Massenet's appeal to women. The reception of Massenet was strongly gendered from Manon on, and critics portrayed audiences as a reflection of the music itself, and vice versa. This typecasting as a specialist in feminine behaviour, with corresponding applications to musical style, has meant that Massenet always faced an uphill battle with critics when it came to larger heroic subjects such as Le Cid, or male characters such as Werther and Don Quichotte. It was in the Wagnerian camp of critics — the Fourcauds, the Ernsts, the Servières — that the invective against Massenet became most virulent: his supposed insincerity, desire for flattery, superficiality, all tainted more or less (depending on the writer and the circumstance) with the brush of femininity.

Keywords:   French opera, criticism, femininity, Wagnerian, Le Cid

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