Giacomo Meyerbeer, one of the most important and influential opera composers of the nineteenth century, enjoyed a fame during his lifetime hardly rivalled by any of his contemporaries. This ten volume set provides in one collection all the operatic texts set by Meyerbeer in his career. The texts offer the most complete versions available. Each libretto is translated into modern English by Richard Arsenty; and each work is introduced by Robert Letellier. In this comprehensive edition of Meyerbeer's libretti, the original text and its translation are placed on facing pages for ease of use. The eleventh volume presents the fourth of Meyerbeer's grands operas, and his final work. By 1860 long-imposed labor had started to tell upon the composer's health: he knew that he must concentrate on the "navigator project" which he had started twenty years earlier if he intended to finish it. Meyerbeer died on 2 May 1864, the day after the completion of the copying of the full score of this his last opera, Vasco da Gama. Minna Meyerbeer and Cesar-Victor Perrin, the director of the Opera, entrusted the editing of a performing edition to the famous Belgian musicologist Francois-Joseph Fetis, while the libretto was revised by Melesville. The original title of L'Africaine was restored out of deference to public expectation. Much of the music and action was suppressed, in spite of the strain this inflicted on the internal logic of the story.While L'Africaine is not lacking in the grandeur of statement and stirring climaxes for which the composer was so famous, there is a new intimacy, a new intensity of melancholic lyricism. Like its famous predecessors, it is basically an historical work, derived from the period of sixteenth-century Renaissance. The account of Vasco da Gama's voyage of discovery around the Cape of Good Hope and conquest of Calicut (1497-98) is subjected to a fictional treatment that raises many interesting issues. The framework is historical, but most of the characters and course of action are not; in fact the end of the opera, in the suicide of the heroine, suddenly leaves the terra firma of reality, and transports us into the mystical realms of the spirit. It is this mixture of modes that is central to the dramaturgy of L'Africaine, a confusion of history and fairytale, ancient certainties and challenging discoveries, in the creation of a new mythology. There is also originality in formal developments, with the great tenor scene in act 4 providing a new malleability in handling the constraints of shape and genre: recitative, arioso and cabaletta have a fluent integration in trying to explore the text more pointedly. L'Africaine was produced on 28 April 1865, a great posthumous tribute to its famous creators. The Ship Scene, the exotic Indian act, and the Scene of the Manchineel Tree exerted a fascination on audiences, and elicited new praise. The work full of melodic beauty and rapturous lyricism, began a triumphal progress through the world, beginning with the big stages of London and Berlin.
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages: 287
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 212 x 148 x 16 mm
Edition: 2nd Unabridged edition