Messidor is a four-act operatic drame lyrique by Alfred Bruneau to a French libretto by Émile Zola. The opera premiered on February 19, 1897 in Paris. The opera title comes from the tenth month of the French Republican Calendar.
Although initially successful, the popularity of Messidor was adversely affected by the Dreyfus Affair which was occurring at the time of the opera's premiere. Because both Bruneau and his good friend Zola were active supporters of Alfred Dreyfus during his trial for treason, the French public did not welcome the composer's music for several years afterward.
The collaborations between Bruneau and Zola, of which Messidor is the most notable, were considered an attempt at a French alternative to the Italian verismo movement in opera.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, February 19, 1897 (Conductor: Paul Taffanel)|
|Mathias, Guillaume's cousin||baritone||Jean-François Delmas|
|Véronique, Guillaume's mother||mezzo-soprano||Blanche Deschamps-Jéhin|
|Hélène, Gaspard's daughter||soprano||Lucy Berthet|
|Le berger||tenor or baritone||Maurice Renaud|
|Le prêtre||tenor or bass||Gallois|
|Chorus: Peasants, workers, children, Rogation procession|
Set in Ariège, a region in the south-west of France, the opera tells the story of a greedy peasant, Gaspard, who has appropriated for himself a gold-bearing stream, which had previously provided income for the entire community. His daughter, Hélène, and Guillaume, a young and virtuous man, fall in love, but Guillaume's mother, Véronique, has accused Gaspard of murdering her husband. Ultimately Gaspard's mining operation fails, and his cousin Mathias is found to be the real murderer.
Notes and references
- Smith, Richard Langham: "Messidor (i)", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Retrieved on February 11, 2009), <http://www.grovemusic.com>
- Smith, Richard Langham: "Bruneau, (Louis Charles Bonaventure) Alfred", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Retrieved on February 11, 2009), <http://www.grovemusic.com>
- Smith, Richard Langham: "Zola, Emile", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Retrieved on February 11, 2009), <http://www.grovemusic.com>
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005)."Messidor". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
- Kelly, Barbara, French music, culture, and national identity, 1870-1939, Boydell & Brewer, 2008, p. 114. ISBN 1-58046-272-3