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From French Literature to Music


... opera means simply 'works' in Latin; The earliest work considered an ... The Count has married Rosine and Figaro is about to marry Suzanne (Rosine's maid) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: From French Literature to Music

From French Literature to Music
  • Introduction
  • Part I. French Literature and Opera
  • A. The Marriage of Figaro
  • B. Carmen
  • C. Rigoletto
  • Part II. French Literature and Musical
  • A. The Phantom of the Opera
  • B. Notre Dame de Paris
  • C. Le Petit Prince
  • Conclusion
  • References

  • French literature is considered one of the
    richest and most varied national literatures
  • French stories has been influential since the
    Middle Ages
  • A large number of opera libretti is based on
    French plays and novels
  • French novels have found a way to become even
    more famous in the 20th century as many musicals
    were based on French novels
  • Here are some of the most famous operas and
    musicals inspired by French literature

Part I. French Literature and Opera
  • As defined in the dictionary, an opera is an art
    form consisting of a dramatic stage performance
    set to music
  • Opera clearly resembles theater however, the
    words of the opera, or libretto, are sung rather
    than spoken
  • Male singers are classified as bass,
    bass-baritone, baritone, tenor and countertenor.
    Female singers are classified, as contralto,
    mezzo-soprano and soprano
  • The word opera means simply "works" in Latin The
    earliest work considered an opera in the sense
    the work is usually understood dates from around
  • The golden age of opera 17-19 centuries Even if
    Italian libretti were the norm, many operas were
    based on a French story

A. The Marriage of Figaro
  • Novel written by Beaumarchais (1732-1799)
  • Le Mariage de Figaro (1784), part II of a
    trilogy dedicated to the life of Figaro
  • The story set in Count Almaviva's castle in
    Seville The Count has married Rosine and Figaro
    is about to marry Suzanne (Rosine's maid)
  • Opera composed by Mozart (1756-1791)
  • Libretto written by Lorenzo da Ponte (original
    title Le Nozze di Figaro) Four acts
  • First performance in Vienna in May 1786
  • The story is a continuation of The Barber of
    Seville (Rossini composed an opera in 1816)

A. The Marriage of Figaro
  • Lorenzo da Ponte took this popular play, removed
    "political" content that would have offended the
    Viennese imperial censors (the French Revolution
    was only a few years away), and faithfully
    translated the rest into Italian

B. Carmen
  • Opera composed by Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
  • Libretto written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic
  • Four acts 1874
  • First performance in Paris in March 1875
  • Influenced by Giuseppe Verdi, he composed the
    title role in Carmen for a mezzo-soprano.
  • Novel written by Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870)
  • Carmen (1846), story of an unfaithful gypsy girl
    who is killed by the soldier who loves her
  • Mérimée met and befriended the Countess of
    Montijo in Spain in 1830. When her daughter
    became the Empress Eugenie of France in 1853 he
    was made a senator

B. Carmen
  • During its time, Carmen was considered a failure,
    denounced as immoral and superficial. Today
    it is often seen as the greatest romantic opera
    of the era and one of the most popular works in
    operatic history.

C. Rigoletto
  • Victor Hugos "Le Roi samuse"
  • Five acts 1832 Paris
  • The Renaissance Francis I represented as an
    odious character
  • Rigoletto was not staged in Paris, due to
    objections from Victor Hugo himself
  • It took 6 years to convince him to listen to the
  • When he finally was persuaded to watch a
    performance of the opera, Hugo found himself
    extremely enthusiastic
  • Opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi  (1813-1901)
  • Libretto written by Francesco Maria Piave
  • Three acts March 1851
  • The jester of the prince (Triboulet in Hugos
    work) became Rigoletto (from French rigolo
    funny). The name of the work too was changed (it
    was first called The Malediction).

C. Rigoletto
  • The play tells the story of a libertine king.
    When the opera was written, northern Italy was
    under the domination of Austria. Verdi had to
    compromise with the Austrian censors the French
    King became a fictitious Duke of Mantua.

Part II. French Literature and Musical
  • Musical theater (or theatre) is a form of theater
    combining music, songs, dance, and spoken
  • Related to opera, frequently being distinguished
    by the use of popular music
  • The musical developed from opera and operetta at
    the end of the 19th century
  • Since the beginning of the 20th century, a large
    number of musicals produced on Broadway in New
    York and London's West End
  • The 1980s and 1990s saw the influence of European
    "mega-musicals" or "pop operas with English and
    French hits such as Les Misérables, Miss Saigon
    and The Phantom of the Opera

A. The Phantom of the Opera
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber musical in 1986
  • His second wife was the soprano who plays
    Christine in the musical Sarah Brightman. They
    were married in 1984 and divorced in 1990.
  • 2004, a movie based on the musical was released
  • The screenplay was written in the south of France
    in 1989 by Joel Schumacher and Andrew Lloyd
  • Gaston Leroux (1868-1927) wrote Le Fantôme de
    l'opéra in 1910
  • 19th century Paris at the Opera Garnier
  • The young diva Christine Daaé achieves sudden
    prominence on the opera stage when she replaces
    the current prima donna Carlotta
  • Christine is loved by the handsome Raoul, but
    also by a ghost that haunts the opera house

A. The Phantom of the Opera
B. Notre Dame de Paris
  • Victor Hugos novel 1831
  • Enormous popularity Gothic revival
  • Social justice, the gothic cathedral
    mistreatment of the ugly Quasimodo
  • The human drama revolves around the gypsy
    Esmeralda, and which of several suitors she will
    choose Frollo the priest, Phoebus the captain or
    Quasimodo the bell-ringer
  • Musical composed by Richard Cocciante and Luc
  • In 1997 performed "The Pagan Ave Maria" from
    Notre Dame de Paris before Pope John Paul II at
    the Vatican
  • Hugo himself wrote a libretto for an opera
    version in 1835, four years after the novel was
    originally published

B. Notre Dame de Paris
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the
    Franco-Canadian musical "Notre Dame de Paris"
    enjoyed the most successful first year of any
    musical ever

C. Le Petit Prince
  • Saint-Exupérys novel, 1943 written near New
    York in 1942
  • Profound and idealistic points about life and
    love in time of war
  • The writer imagines himself lost in the Sahara
    desert after a plane crash
  • He meets a young extra-terrestrial prince
  • In 1944, Saint-Exupérys plane crashed again and
  • Musical composed by Richard Cocciante 2002
  • Daniel Lavoie, singing Frollo in Notre Dame, is
  • It is a great success as it respects the text and
    the spirit of the novel
  • Jeff, the singer who pays the Little Prince is 13
    years old from Lyon
  • Costumes designed by Castelbajac, a famous Paris

C. Le Petit Prince
  • Because of its long and illustrious history and
    its influence on other literatures, French
    literature occupies a central position since the
    Middle Ages
  • French plays and novels have not only influenced
    opera and musical, but also cinema
  • A successful French story has a great chance to
    become a successful opera, musical and (or)
    movie there are also many examples of French
    stories first despised that became worldwide hits
    (Carmen or Le roi samuse)
  • Among the most appreciated French novels are
    romantic stories (Cyrano de Bergerac), fairy
    tales (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella),
    adventure (Dumas) and science fiction (Jules

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Merci et à bientôt