ORCHESTRE PHILHARMONIQUE DE MONTE-CARLO
CHŒUR DE L'OPÉRA DE MONTE-CARLO
with Kate Aldrich,
World premiere recording
‘It will be a strange score: people will either not like it at all, or will like it enormously’, prophesied Camille Saint-Saëns a few days before the premiere of Déjanire. The opera, first performed in Monte Carlo on 14 March 1911, is based on incidental music written in 1898 for the Béziers Arena. Fascinated by the subject, the composer soon wanted to give it a second, more ambitious life. He therefore conceived a mythological epic that inspired ‘powerfully evocative music’, according to Gabriel Fauré, who was struck by the impact of the choral writing.
Yet the love drama that rends the heroine’s heart engenders wildly romantic duets and culminates in the public immolation of Hercules, set ablaze by the poisoned tunic offered to him by the fallen queen. This new Déjanire received high praise from the critics, who flocked to Monaco to see it. But the modernist path that French opera was taking at the time did not allow the work to survive the upheavals of the First World War. It would have been a shame to prolong this unjustified ostracism any longer.
Recorded at Auditorium Rainier III, Monaco, on 12-16 October 2022.
Table of contents
Alexandre Dratwicki, Death and transfiguration
Vincent Giroud, The last opera of Saint-Saëns
Sabine Teulon Lardic, Reinventing tragedy ‘à l’antique’: Déjanire at the Béziers Arena
Gabriel Fauré, The evening of the premiere
What the papers said
Cast - Tracklist