Summary Book Review Daniel-François-Esprit Auber by Robert Ignatius Letellier :
Download or read book in PDF or another Format Daniel-François-Esprit Auber written by Robert Ignatius Letellier and published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. This book was released on 2010-10-12 with total page 420 pages. Available in PDF, EPUB and Kindle. Book excerpt: Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782-1871), the composer of La Muette de Portici (1828) and Fra Diavolo (1830), was once regarded as one of the great figures of music, a staple of the operatic repertoire in France, and indeed around the world. It is now almost impossible to understand the extent of his once universal fame, his influence on contemporary composers. His operas were in the theatre repertories of the world until the 1920s, and innumerable arrangements of them were published and sold everywhere. The ubiquity of his overtures—Masaniello, Fra Diavolo, The Bronze Horse, The Black Domino, The Crown Diamonds—once as popular as those of Rossini and Suppé, and the influence of his melodies and dance rhythms on piano and instrumental music, and on Romantic comic opera, was overwhelming. In his operas Auber avoided any excess in dramatic expression; all emotion and expressiveness, any vivid depiction of local milieu, were realized within his discreetly nuanced tones, always stamped with a Parisian elegance. His operas were loved in his native France until the years before the First World War, with Fra Diavolo and Le Domino noir last performed at the Opéra-Comique in 1909. Auber’s career was a record of this success and appreciation. His appointment to the Institute (1829) was followed by other prestigious posts: as Director of Concerts at Court (1839), director of the Paris Conservatoire (1842), Musical Director of the Imperial Chapel (1852), and Grand Officer of the Légion d’Honneur (1861). During his lifetime, six biographies appeared contemporaneously, with another six appearing posthumously in the period up to 1914. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, reactions to Wagner, Impressionism and the Neo-Classicism of the Ballet Russe resulted in a growing lack of interest in the ancient traditions of opéra-comique, with its charming plots, melodic directness and rhythmic élan. Boieldieu, Hérold, Adam and Auber were relegated to the dustbin of history. Only in Germany did the genre continue to flourish; Auber’s most enduring work is still performed there. His death in pitiful conditions during the Siege of Paris (1871), in the city he always loved, marked the end of an era. Auber now occupies a shadowy niche in the general consciousness as the name of the metro station nearest the Palais Garnier, and remains unknown and neglected (apart of course from Fra Diavolo), although his impact on the nineteenth-century operatic theatre was just as great as Rossini’s. The time has surely come for Auber’s life and work, especially in association with his life-long collaborator Eugène Scribe (1791-1861)—master dramatist and supreme librettist, a determining force in the history of opera—to be reassessed. Perhaps then the world will begin to hear more of Auber’s elegant gracious, life-affirming music, written to Scribe’s words. The aim of the present study is to offer an overview of the life and work of Auber by close examination of his forty operas, with consideration of origins, casting, plot, analysis of dramaturgy and musical style, and reception history. This is presented in the context of Auber's relationship to the dominant genres of early nineteenth century French culture, opéra comique and grand opéra. The three evolving periods of Auber's unique involvement with opéra comique are of principal concern. This analysis of the operas is made in the context of Auber's crucial working relationship with Scribe, who provided 38 of his libretti. Their cooperation is unique and of great importance on several literary, musical and cultural levels. The nature of their interaction and personal friendship is assessed by a translation of the extant correspondence between them, some 80 letters that have not appeared in English before. The presentation of each opera is illustrated by musical examples from all the scores, prints from the complete works of Scribe and other theatrical memorabilia. The study also contains bibliographies of Auber’s works and their contemporary arrangements, studies of Auber’s and Scribe’s life and work, their artistic and historical milieux, and a discography.