The series L’Opéra français publishes historical-critical editions of French music theatre works, which offer an authoritative basis for performances.
The repertoire of French operas of the 19th century published by Bärenreiter-Verlag has now grown considerably: in the series L’Opéra français, which is also available to purchase on subscription, veritable rediscoveries stand alongside core titles from the repertoire. The works are published in critical new editions under the editorial direction of Paul Prévost in collaboration with leading scholars in the genre, including a critical edition of the libretto in all its historic versions. This evaluation of all the sources – in many cases for the first time – continues to provide essential stimuli for performance practice – discoveries await!
Charles Gounod: Faust (version opéra). Opera in 5 acts. Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. Edited by Paul Prévost (BA 8713)
Scoring: Marguerite (S), Siebel (S), Marthe (MS), Faust (T), Valentin (Bar), Wagner (Bar), Méphistophélès (B); Chœur
Orchestra: 2 (I ou pte fl.).2 (I ou cor anglais).2 (I ou clar. b). 2 – 4.2 Cnt à pist.(ou 2 trp).2.3.1. – Timb., Trgl, Tamb. (ou c. claire), Tamb. basque, Tamt, Cymb., Gr. c. – 4 Harpes, Org. – Cordes; stage music (N° 22): SSaxhn, 2 Cnt à pist., 2 Trp. à cyl., 2 ATromb., TTromb, BSaxhn, CbSaxhn
Faust stands as a representative work for its composer, who was torn between the expression of exaggerated sensuality and a deep spirituality. And so in its most important musical realization, Goethe’s drama experienced a profoundly personal interpretation. With a detailed introduction (in French, English and German), this new edition presents the history of the work in the various complete sung versions created before the composer’s death. The main version in the edition corresponds with that used at the performance on 3 March 1869 at the Paris Opéra. Through simple cross-references, the score also enables the preceding and later stages of the opera to be reconstructed for practical performance use. The edition is rounded off by the inclusion of a critical edition of the libretto. All available sources are described, and the Critical Report provides information about all the alterations. The two earlier versions of Faust with spoken dialogues are the subject of a separate volume in the same series, which is in preparation (BA 8714).
Camille Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila. Opera in 3 acts and 4 scenes Libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire. Edited by Andreas Jacob / Libretto edition by Fabien Guilloux (BA 8710)
Scoring: Dalila (MS), Samson (T), Le Grand prêtre de Dagon (Bar), Abimélech, Satrape de Gaza (B), Un vieillard Hébreu (B), Un Messager philistin (T), Premier Philistin (T), Deuxième Philistin (B); Chœur des Hébreux, Chœurs des Philistins; ballet – Prêtresses de Dagon
Orchestra: 3 (III ou pte fl.).2.Cor angl.2. Clar. b.2. Cb bn – 4.2.2 Cnt à pist.3.1.2 Ophicl.– Timb., Gr. c., Bck, Trgl, Cymb, Cstgn, Tamb, Tamt – 2 Harpes – Cordes; stage music: Clôche en fa#
Samson et Dalila is now the sole opera by Saint-Saëns on which his reputation as an operatic composer is based. One of the aims right from the start of this project was to counter this much lamented general limitation in publishing terms, and to place the work in its creative context. But even this major work had to overcome some major obstacles before its position in the repertoire was established: when the first act was performed in a concert version in 1875 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris (as part of the “Concerts nationaux”), the reception was extremely cool. Without the support of Franz Liszt, who premiered the work on 2 December 1877 in Weimar (in German, and with triumphant success), it had not yet embarked on its global triumphal progress, and would, like Saint-Saëns’ twelve other operas, have disappeared from the stage. But performances followed in Brussels (1878, concert performance, French language premiere), in Rouen and at the Théâtre-Lyrique de l’Eden in Paris. Only on 23 November 1892 did the first performance take place in the Salle Garnier, which ultimately marked the beginning of its great and continuing success. This is the version which is published in the main part of the edition. For this, the numerous sources from the performances in Weimar and Paris have been evaluated for the first time.
Jules Massenet: Werther. Lyric drama in 4 acts and 5 scenes Libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann (after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). Edited by Lesley Wright (BA 8706)
Scoring: Werther (T), Albert (Bar), Le Bailli (Bar/B), Schmidt (T), Johann (Bar/B), Brühlmann (T), Charlotte (MS), Sophie (S), Käthchen (S), Les 6 enfants (children’s voices), Un petit paysan (silent role), Un domestique (silent role)
Orchestra: 2 (II ou pte fl).2 (II ou cor angl).2.Asax.2 – 4.2 Cnt à pist.3.1. – Timb., Trgl, Tamb, Gr c. – Harpe – gr. Org., Clav. de timbres (ou clavier Glcksp) – Cordes; stage music: Tamt, Machine à vent
In order to make an ideal presentation of Massenet’s last compositional ideas, all the alterations which were incorporated in the many orchestral scores and piano reductions published during the composer’s lifetime have been evaluated for the first time in this new edition. The autograph manuscript of 1887 (which was used by the engraver in the production of the first orchestral score) serves as a basis for this; but it does not reflect the numerous interventions which the composer made before and after the first performance at the Vienna Hofoper (on 16 February 1892, in German), and it is rather misleading in trying to solve many problematic passages. The various editions of the score published by Heugel before 1912 reveal distinct alterations compared with the autograph, both between them and compared with contemporary vocal scores. An important source for the new edition was Massenet’s working copy of the vocal score, in which he recorded with minute care alterations in the vocal lines, expression markings and more precise dynamics, as well as notating specific stage instructions – evidence of the precise work with his singers. This new edition tracks down for the first time the variant readings of all sources from Massenet’s lifetime, explains them and brings them together again, gives the libretto its status in an edition of the text sources, corrects mistakes and omissions, and suggests alternative pitches for the (historically limited) timpani. Several appendices provide information on the work’s rich performance history.
Ambroise Thomas: Hamlet. Opera in 5 acts, libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier. Edited by Sarah Plummer and Hugh Macdonald (BA 8709)
Scoring: Claudius, roi de Danemark (B), La reine Gertrude (MS), Hamlet (Bar), Polonius (B), Ophélie (S), Laërte (T), Horatio (B), Marcellus (T), Le Spectre (B), 1er fossoyeur (T), 2e fossoyeur (B); Chœur et Ballet: Seigneurs, Dames, Soldats, Comédiens, Serviteurs, Paysans danois
Orchestra: Pte fl.2.2 (II ou cor angl).2.Clar b. ASax, BarSax.4. – 4 (III–IV ou cors á pist).2,2 Cnt à pist.3. Saxhn b. – Timb; Gr. c., Trgl, Cymb – 2 Harpes – Cordes – stage music: Fl., Clar., Cor, 6 Trp, 4 Tromb, Saxhn b, Perc., 2 Harpes
Hamlet, one of the greatest operatic successes in 19th century France, was premiered on 7 March 1868 at the Opéra de Paris. There is no question that Ambroise Thomas knew how to give a convincing interpretation of Shakespeare’s world-famous drama, even if his librettist allowed the hero to survive at the end. In order not to expose sensitive English audiences to this unexpected finale, an ending was created for the performances in 1869 in London which corresponded with the English tragedy, one in which Hamlet breathed his last at the final curtain. However, the considerable number of surviving sources reveals a far greater variety of versions than simply the alternative ending: in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Bibliothèque-musée de l’Opéra and the Archives nationales in Paris alone there are sketches, alternative scenes, additional ballets, corrections, revisions, all in Thomas’s hand. This scholarly new edition therefore offers the opportunity to appreciate the richness of a key work at the end of the Second Empire, with the aim of making all sources available for practical use based on a scholarly evaluation. The effort has been worth it if only to free the old edition of mistakes.
Édouard Lalo: Fiesque. Grand Opéra in 3 acts, libretto by Charles Beauquier (after Friedrich Schiller), edited by Hugh Macdonald, libretto edition Vincent Giroud and Paul Prévost (BA 8703)
Scoring: Fiesque, Comte de Lavagna (T), Verrina (B), Hassan (Bar), Léonore, Comtesse de Lavagna (S), Julie, Princesse Doria (MS), Gianettino Doria (B), Borgonino (B), Sacco (T), Romano (Bar), 3 Sentinelles (TBB), Coryphée (B), Un homme du peuple (T), Un page (S); Chœur
Orchestra: Pte fl.2.2 (ou cor angl).2 (II ou clar. b).2. – 4.4 (III–IV ou cnt à pist.).3.Oph. (ou Tb) – Timb., Gr. c., Cymb., Tamb., Trgl, Cloches – Cordes ; stage music: 184.108.40.206. – 0.0.0.0. – Trgl
For opera connoisseurs it is Édouard Lalo’s Le roi d’Ys which is best known, but his first opera of 1868 is now accessible: despite its musical qualities, Fiesque has only now been published for the first time in this edition by Hugh Macdonald. In 1868 it was awarded third prize in a competition, and hence it was not performed. The first performance only took place in 2006, firstly in a concert version in Montpellier (conducted by Alain Altinoglu with Roberto Alagna as Fiesque), then in a staged version in Mannheim; there is a CD recording from Montpellier. And so the lyric drama after Schiller’s Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua can take its rightful place amongst the stage works of Gounod, Bizet, Saint-Saëns and Massenet.
Adolphe Adam: Le Toréador ou l’Accord parfait. Opéra bouffon in two acts, libretto by Thomas Sauvage. Edited by Paul Prévost (BA 8701)
Scoring: Coraline (S), Tracolin (T), Don Belflor (B ou Bar)
Orchestra: 2 (I ou pte fl).2.2.2. – 4.2 Cnt à pist (ou Trp).3.0 – Timb., Trgl, Timbre – Cordes; stage music: Flûte
First performed in 1849 at the Opéra-Comique, this comic opera in two acts and ten numbers is representative of the style of the emerging Second Empire with its musical elegance and comic verve. According to the traditional scheme, the cabal develops between a confirmed bachelor, the young beauty and her lover, but the moral of the ending as a harmonic, “perfect” triad is most definitely modern and leads us to suspect that the libretto was not subject to the constraints of the censor.
Two arias are provided for each role, and as a flautist Tracolin also knows how to weave famous melodies from the French operatic repertoire evocatively into his courting. The key pieces are the two trios in particular. The variation number on “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman” is perhaps the central jewel, but here and elsewhere, vocal virtuosity and the comedy of the situation are combined with brilliant ease.
Emmanuel Chabrier: L’Étoile. Opéra bouffe in 3 acts, libretto by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo. Edited by Hugh Macdonald (BA 8708)
Scoring: Ouf 1er (T), Lazuli (MS), La Princesse Laoula (S), Siroco (B), Hérisson de Porc Épic (T), Aloès (MS), Tapioca (T), Patacha (T), Zalzal (Bar), 6 Desmoiselles d’honneur (3 S, 3 MS), Le Maître (B), Le Chef de la police (spoken role), Le Maire (silent), Un Page (silent); Chœur: Peuple, Gardes, Hommes et Dames de la cour
Orchestra: 2 (ou ptes fl).1.2.1. – 2.2Cnt à pist.1.0. – Timb., Cloches, Gr. c., Cymb., Trgl – Cordes
L’Étoile, Chabrier’s breakthrough on the stage, is a typical Opéra bouffe in number form with spoken dialogues, and in the absurdity of the plot and its jet-black humour, it is typical of the period of the late Second Empire. In an oriental fantasy empire King Ouf rules, who celebrates his birthday every year with an execution – he is now searching for another violator of the law for this, and comes across Lazuli. But the stars demand his protection ... Every musical number is a treat, with enchanting melodies and the finest orchestration. It is only right and proper that this rediscovery has gone on to enjoy quite a triumphant progress. The new edition recreates the concept intended in the autograph with two sopranos (Aloès and Laoula, with Aloès with the higher part) and Zalzal as tenor, whilst Lazuli is a mezzo-soprano role with a wide vocal range.
(from [t]akte 1/2017)
(translation: Elizabeth Robinson)