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Voice LessonsFrench Mélodie in the Belle Epoque$
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Katherine Bergeron

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195337051

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195337051.001.0001

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L'Art de dire, or Language in Performance

L'Art de dire, or Language in Performance

(p.183) Chapter Four L'Art de dire, or Language in Performance
Voice Lessons

Katherine Bergeron

Oxford University Press

The singers and actors of the Belle Epoque are the focus of this chapter, which investigates the French art of diction in theatrical and musical performances circa 1900. The survey of performance practice includes not only sound recordings but also written records — treatises, memoirs, self-help manuals, and musical scores — that reveal how performers thought about the act of speaking French. Evidence from celebrities such as Sarah Berhardt and Marcel Proust, as well as lesser-known personalities such as Léon Brémont and Reynaldo Hahn, provide unique insight into pronunciation habits that defined both the French character and the character of French. The chapter ends with a close reading of the end of Debussy's opera Pelléas et Mélisande.

Keywords:   diction, pronunciation, performance practice, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Proust, Reynaldo Hahn, Léon Brémont, Pelléas et Mélisande

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