Cycle
Camille Saint-Saëns, the one-man band

Phryné

Opéra-comique in two acts, music by Camille Saint-Saëns, libretto by Lucien Augé de Lassus, premiered at the Opéra-Comique, Paris, on 24 May 1893.
1909 version with recitatives by André Messager
Opera
Phryné was one of Saint-Saëns’s most performed and esteemed operas until the First World War. The score, completed in Algiers in March 1893, was originally intended for the Théâtre Lyrique de la Renaissance. But when its manager went bankrupt, the composer turned to the Opéra-Comique, where the work was premiered on 24 May 1893. Two fellow-composers expressed their admiration for Saint-Saëns when they discovered this little gem: André Messager (‘My God, how delicious your [first] act is!’) and Charles Gounod (‘Thank you for your delightful Phryné. I am now going to hear it through the eyes (those two second ears of the musician) after my ears, those eyes of the music, have already been intoxicated by it’). The work enjoyed immediate success, which quickly spread to the provinces. Its publisher, Durand, then began to invest in translations in order to solicit performances abroad: French and Italian vocal scores were issued in June 1896, followed by a German version. As the linguistic specificity of the spoken dialogue risked putting off the managements of some opera houses, Messager composed recitatives which were published in August 1909 and are skilfully interwoven into Saint-Saëns’s music with great care over continuity. It is this extremely rare version that the Palazzetto Bru Zane offers an opportunity to discover.

Dates

Thu 24 June 2021
Auditorium du Musée du Louvre, Paris

Performers

OPÉRA DE ROUEN NORMANDIE ORCHESTRA
CHŒUR DU CONCERT SPIRITUEL
Hervé Niquet conductor
with Florie Valiquette, Anaïs Constans, Thomas Dolié, Cyrille Dubois, François Rougier, Patrick Bolleire

Programme

Phryné by Camille SAINT-SAËNS
Concert performance
Co-production Palazzetto Bru Zane / Musée du Louvre / Opéra de Rouen Orchestra
World premiere recording for the ‘French opera’ series – Bru Zane Label
Bru Zane Mediabase
Digital resources for French Romantic music
The website hosts articles on people, works and topics authored by musicologists and historians collaborating with Palazzetto Bru Zane.