25th, 29th October, 1st, 4th November
Drame lyrique in four acts by Camille Erlanger
Libretto by Arthur Bernède & Paul de Choudens
Sung in French with English surtitles
Rouen, France, 1911
Even considering Wexford’s proud record of reviving neglected operas, L’Aube rouge (‘The Red Dawn’) promises to be quite a rediscovery. But then its composer, Camille Erlanger, is more neglected than most usually heard here. Not to be confused with the equally obscure Anglo-French composer Baron Frédéric d’Erlanger, Camille Erlanger (1863-1919) enjoyed much success in his heyday and wrote nine operas in all — one of them, the five-act music drama Le Fils de l’étoile, being composed for that high temple that was the Paris Opéra, where it enjoyed success before disappearing from the repertoire. His fame evidently spread far and wide, since the Avenue Erlanger in Quebec City is named after him, and he was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. But he is perhaps best remembered now (if at all) for Le Juif polonais, a more enduring success in its day.
Erlanger himself was Jewish, and served as choirmaster of the famous Tournelles Synagogue near the Place des Vosges in Paris. Born in Paris, he studied at the Conservatory there with Léo Delibes (of Lakmé fame). Like many French composers of his generation — and despite Delibes’s influence — he was in thrall to German music, though in his case less to Wagner than Weber. He is said to have always produced rewardingly singable lines that appealed to artists as well as audiences, but the 19th-century roots of his style meant that he went out of fashion quickly in the lively musical world of interwar France.
Premiered at Rouen just after Christmas 1911, L’Aube rouge seems to inhabit a similar world to that of Giordano’s Fedora, with the difference that instead of Nihilistic plots forming the backdrop, here there are Nihilists throwing bombs at Russian diplomats in Parisian streets and explosions. More conventionally for opera, it features a heroine who (inevitably) loses her mind at the end. But any opera that moves — apparently effortlessly — from Moscow (‘chez les Nihilistes’) to Nice, Paris, a clinic, and back to Moscow has surely got to be fun.
2023 Operas - Women & War
72nd Wexford Festival Opera - 24 Oct to 5 Nov
Zoraida di Granata
24th , 27th, 31st October, 3rd November
A modern premiere, Zoraida di Granata follows the experience of a woman drawn into war against her will, in a battle to save her love.
26th, 28tn October, 2nd, 5th November
The opera opens in Rome in the middle of World War Two. Widowed shopkeeper Cesira shuts up her shop and then is forced against her will, to sleep with Giovanni, a dealer in black market goods. In e...