The Info List - La Muette De Portici

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La muette de Portici
(The Dumb Girl of Portici, or The Mute Girl of Portici), also called Masaniello
(Italian pronunciation: [mazaˈnjɛllo]) in some versions,[1] is an opera in five acts by Daniel Auber, with a libretto by Germain Delavigne, revised by Eugène Scribe. The work has an important place in music history as the earliest French grand opera. It is also known for its role in the Belgian Revolution of 1830.


1 Background

1.1 Belgian revolution

2 Roles 3 Synopsis

3.1 Act I 3.2 Act II 3.3 Act III 3.4 Act IV 3.5 Act V

4 Influence 5 Recordings 6 References 7 External links

Background[edit] The opera was first given at the Salle Le Peletier
Salle Le Peletier
of the Paris Opéra on 29 February 1828.[2] The role of Masaniello
was taken by the famous tenor Adolphe Nourrit
Adolphe Nourrit
and Princess Elvire was sung by Laure Cinti-Damoreau. The dancer Lise Noblet
Lise Noblet
played the mute title role, a part later taken by other dancers such as Marie Taglioni
Marie Taglioni
and Fanny Elssler, also the actress Harriet Smithson
Harriet Smithson
(the future wife of Hector Berlioz). Alphonse was created by Alexis Dupont, who was Lise Noblet's brother-in-law. The conductor at the premiere was Henri Valentino.[3] La muette was innovative in a number of ways. First, it marked the introduction into opera of mime and gesture as an integral part of an opera plot (although these formats were familiar to Parisian audiences from ballet and mélodrame).[4] Also, its historic setting, liberal political implications, use of popular melodies, handling of large orchestra and chorus and spectacular stage effects immediately marked it as different from preceding types of opera, in retrospect earning it the title of the first of the genre of 'Grand Opera'. The journal Pandore commented after the premiere "for a long time, enlightened critics have thought that alongside the old tragédie lyrique it was possible to have a more realistic and natural drama which might suit the dignity of this theatre."[5] The new genre was consolidated by Rossini's Guillaume Tell (1829) and Meyerbeer's Robert le diable (1831). Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
remarked, in his 1871 Reminiscences of Auber, that the opera "whose very representation had brought [revolutions] about, was recognised as an obvious precursor of the July Revolution, and seldom has an artistic product stood in closer connection with a world-event."[6]La muette was revived in Paris immediately after the French July Revolution
July Revolution
of 1830. Belgian revolution[edit]

The Théâtre de la Monnaie
Théâtre de la Monnaie
(Muntschouwburg) where the performance of 25 August 1830 sparked riots leading to the Belgian Revolution

The opera was chosen for a performance at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels
on 25 August 1830, as part of King William I's festival in celebration of the 15th year of his reign. The opera would cap the three-day festival of fireworks, feasts, and processions. William I had been present at the Brussels
premiere of the opera in 1829, and it enjoyed several successful performances in the city. Although, when nationalist disturbances occurred during a performance around the time of the July Revolution
July Revolution
in Paris, the opera was temporarily banned. The ban was lifted for the August 25th performance.[7] The King's festival announcement were met with open plans for revolt. Posters were put up around Brussels
that advertised, "Monday, the 23rd, fireworks; Tuesday, the 24th, illuminations; Wednesday, the 25th, revolution."[8] However, the King's only concession to public safety was to cancel the fireworks and procession on the final night, which left Auber's opera as the last public event in the king's honor. Though the subject of the opera is revolution, its role in the riots may have been more a marriage of convenience because the rebels had pre-ordained the final day of the festival as the start of the Belgian Revolution.[9] Prior to the performance of Auber's opera, the Courrier des Pays-Bas newspaper issued a coded call for attendees to leave prior to the fifth act.[10] There are some disagreements about when in the opera the exodus actually began, but the most commonly cited moment is the second act duet "Amour sacré de la patrie".[11] One contemporary account describes what happened in the theater during the duet:

When Lafeuillade and Casscl began singing the celebrated duet. "Amour sacre de la patrie" enthusiasm exploded irresistibly and [the singers] found it necessary to start afresh in the midst of the cheering. Finally, when Masaniello
(Lafeuillade) launched into his entreaty, the invocation "Aux Armes!," the public could no longer be restrained. They acclaimed aria and actor, they booed the fifth act in order to stop the performance, and the delirious crowd [hurled itself] out of the hall—into history. Welcomed by the other crowd which waited outside, it joined in the demonstrations which loosed the revolution of 1830.[12]


Role[13] Voice type[14] Premiere Cast,[15] 29 February 1828 (Conductor: Henri Valentino)[3]

Masaniello, a Neapolitan fisherman tenor Adolphe Nourrit

Alphonse, son of the Count of Arcos, Viceroy of Naples tenor Alexis Dupont

Elvire, fiancée of Alphonse soprano Laure Cinti-Damoreau

Fenella, sister of Masaniello dancer Lise Noblet

Pietro, friend of Masaniello bass Henri-Bernard Dabadie

Borella, friend of Masaniello bass Alexandre Prévost[16]

Moreno, friend of Masaniello bass Charles-Louis Pouilley[17]

Lorenzo, confidant of Alphonse tenor Jean-Étienne-Auguste Massol

Selva, officer of the Viceroy bass Ferdinand Prévôt

to Elvire soprano Anne Lorotte[18]

Synopsis[edit] The opera is loosely based on the historical uprising of Masaniello against Spanish rule in Naples
in 1647. The character of Fenella, the opera's eponymous heroine, was borrowed from Walter Scott's Peveril of the Peak, which features a deaf and dumb dwarf of the same name.[19] Act I[edit] The square before a chapel We witness the wedding of Alfonso, son of the Viceroy of Naples, with the Spanish Princess Elvira. Alfonso, who has seduced Fenella, the Neapolitan Masaniello's mute sister and abandoned her, is tormented by doubts and remorse, fearing that she has committed suicide. During the festival Fenella rushes in to seek protection from the Viceroy, who has kept her a prisoner for the past month. She has escaped from her prison and narrates the story of her seduction by gestures, showing a scarf which her lover gave her. Elvira promises to protect her and proceeds to the altar, Fenella vainly trying to follow. In the chapel Fenella recognizes her seducer in the bridegroom of the Princess. When the newly married couple come out of the church, Elvira presents Fenella to her husband and discovers from the mute girl's gestures, that he was her faithless lover. Fenella flees, leaving Alfonso and Elvira in sorrow and despair. Act II[edit] On the beach The fishermen, who have been brooding in silence over the tyranny of their foes, begin to assemble. Pietro, Masaniello's friend, has sought for Fenella in vain, but at length she appears of her own accord and confesses her wrongs. Masaniello
is infuriated and swears to have revenge, but Fenella, who still loves Alfonso, does not mention his name. Then Masaniello
calls the fishermen to arms and they swear perdition to the enemy of their country. Act III[edit] The Naples
marketplace People go to and fro, selling and buying, all the while concealing their purpose under a show of merriment and carelessness. Selva, the officer of the Viceroy's body-guard, from whom Fenella has escaped, discovers her and the attempt to rearrest her is the sign for a general revolt, in which the people are victorious. Act IV[edit] Masaniello's house Fenella comes to her brother's dwelling and describes the horrors, which are taking place in the town. The relation fills his noble soul with sorrow and disgust. When Fenella has retired to rest, Pietro enters with comrades and tries to excite Masaniello
to further deeds, but he only wants liberty and shrinks from murder and cruelties. They tell him that Alfonso has escaped and that they are resolved to overtake and kill him. Fenella, who hears all, decides to save her lover. At this moment Alfonso begs at her door for a hiding-place. He enters with Elvira, and Fenella, though at first disposed to avenge herself on her rival, pardons her for Alfonso's sake. Masaniello, reentering, assures the strangers of his protection and even when Pietro denounces Alfonso as the Viceroy's son, he holds his promise sacred. Pietro with his fellow-conspirators leaves him full of rage and hatred. Meanwhile, the magistrate of the city presents Masaniello
with the Royal crown and he is proclaimed King of Naples. Act V[edit] Before the Viceroy's palace In a gathering of fishermen, Pietro confides to Moreno that he has administered poison to Masaniello, in order to punish him for his treason, and that the King of one day will soon die. While he speaks, Borella rushes in to tell of a fresh troop of soldiers, marching against the people with Alfonso at their head. Knowing that Masaniello alone can save them, the fishermen entreat him to take the command of them once more and Masaniello, though deadly ill and half bereft of his reason, complies with their request. The combat takes place, while an eruption of Vesuvius
is going on. Masaniello
falls in the act of saving Elvira's life. On hearing these terrible tidings Fanella rushes to the terrace, from which she leaps into the abyss beneath, while the fugitive noblemen take again possession of the city.[20] Influence[edit] La Muette de Portici
played a major role in establishing the genre of grand opera. Many of its elements – the five-act structure, the obligatory ballet sequence, the use of spectacular stage effects, the focus on romantic passions against a background of historical troubles – would become the standard features of the form for the rest of the 19th century. Grand opera
Grand opera
would play a far more important role in the subsequent career of the librettist than that of the composer. Auber went on to write three more works in the genre: Le Dieu et la bayadère (1830), Gustave III (1833) and Le lac des fées
Le lac des fées
(1839). But their fame would be eclipsed by the grand operas for which Scribe provided the libretti: Meyerbeer's Robert le diable
Robert le diable
(1831) and Les Huguenots (1836) and Halévy's La Juive
La Juive
(1835). Nevertheless, Auber's pioneering work caught the attention of the young Richard Wagner, who was eager to create a new form of music drama. He noted that in La Muette, "arias and duets in the wonted sense were scarcely to be detected any more, and certainly, with the exception of a single prima-donna aria in the first act, did not strike one at all as such; in each instance it was the ensemble of the whole act that riveted attention and carried one away...".[21] It also played a large role in the founding of the Kingdom of Belgium. The riots that led to the independence started after hearing the opera, with its nationalistic view. This opera is the inspiration for Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poem 'Fenella's Escape' published in The Keepsake, 1836. Recordings[edit]

La Muette de Portici: June Anderson, Alfredo Kraus, John Aler, Ensemble Choral Jean Laforge, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, conducted by Thomas Fulton, recorded in September 1996 at the Salle Garnier in Monte Carlo (EMI). OCLC 605508655.

References[edit] Notes

^ Tamvaco 2000, p. 1273. For example, Covent Garden performed it in English as Masaniello; or, The Dumb Girl of Portici
on 4 May 1829 (Loewenberg 1978, column 712) and in Italian as Masaniello
on 10 March 1849 (Tamvaco 2000, p. 957). It was given the title Mazaniello on certain repetitions at the Paris Opéra
Paris Opéra
(Lajarte 1878, p. 129). ^ Herbert Schneider: La Muette de Portici
Grove Music Online, Accessed: 10 April 2007. ^ a b Pougin 1880; Chouquet 1889; Tamvaco 2000, pp. 87, 619; Cooper & Ellis 2001. Other sources credit François Habeneck as the conductor: Parouty; Wolff 1962, p. 152; Casaglia 2005. ^ Hibberd (2003), 154 ^ cited in Hibberd (203), 150 ^ Wagner (1966) 53 ^ Slatin, 47 ^ Mallinson, 54. ^ Slatin, 60 ^ Slatin, 50 ^ Slatin, 53-54 ^ Reniue, 744. ^ Scribe 1875, p. 26. ^ Schneider 1992; Oxford Music Online (subscription required). ^ Auber 1828 ("Personnages"). ^ Kutsch & Riemens 2003, p. 3763; Tamvaco 2000, p. 87. Tamvaco gives the full name of this singer as Antoine-Nicolas-Thérèse Prévost in the index (p. 1287). ^ Tamvaco 2000, p. 87, lists Pouilley in the bass role of Moreno. In his index on p. 1286, Tamvaco gives this singer's full name as Charles-Louis Pouilley but classifies him as a tenor. Gourret 1982, p. 60, confirms that the singer Pouilley was a bass, and also mentions that he joined the company in 1809. Tomvaco also mentions that the company employed a soprano, Mme Pouilley, who was his wife. Casaglia in the Amadeus Almanac lists this singer as Beltrame Pouilley, possibly an error. ^ Tamvaco 2000, pp. 87, 1270. ^ Daniel-François-Esprit Auber: La Muette de Portici, Edited and Introduced by Robert Ignatius Letellier, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (2011). ^ Charles Annesley (1902) The Standard Operaglass, Low, Marston & Co., Ltd., London ^ Parker, pp. 143–145


Auber, Daniel (1828). La muette de Portici, full score. Paris: E. Troupenas. OCLC 21809057. Copy at Gallica. Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "La muette de Portici, 29 Febbraio 1828", Almanacco Amadeusonline. Retrieved 23 March 2015. Chouquet, Gustave (1889). "Valentino, Henri Justin Armand Joseph", vol. 4, p. 214, in A Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 4 volumes. London: Macmillan. Cooper, Jeffrey; Ellis, Katharine (2001). "Valentino, Henri Justin Armand Joseph" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan. ISBN 9781561592395 (hardcover). OCLC 419285866 (eBook).. Also Oxford Music Online (subscription required). Gourret, Jean (1982). Dictionnaire des chanteurs de l'Opéra de Paris. Paris: Albatros. View formats and editions at WorldCat. Hibberd, Sarah, "La Muette and her context", in The Cambridge Companion to Grand Opera
(Ed.) David Charlton, Cambridge, 2003. Kutsch, K. J.; Riemens, Leo (2002). Grosses Sängerlexikon (fourth edition, in German). Munich: K. G. Saur. ISBN 9783598115981. Lajarte, Théodore de (1878). Bibliothèque musicale du Théâtre de l'Opéra, volume 2 [1793–1876]. Paris: Librairie des Bibliophiles. Copy at Google Books. Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera
1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 9780874718515. Macdonald, Hugh (2001). "Daniel Auber", pp. 24–26, in The New Penguin Opera
Guide, edited by Amanda Holden. New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4 Mallinson, Vernon. Belgium, Praeger, 1970. Mondelli, Peter (2013). "The Sociability of History in French Grand Opera: A Historical Materialist Perspective", in 19th Century Music vol. 37, no. 1. Parker, Roger, The Oxford Illustrated History of Opera, Oxford University Press, 1994 Parouty, Michel, Booklet notes to the Fulton recording Pougin, Arthur
Pougin, Arthur
(1880). "Valentino (Henri-Justin-Joseph)", pp. 597–598, in Biographie universelle des musiciens et Bibliographie générale de la musique par F.-J. Fétis. Supplément et complément, vol. 2. Paris: Firmin-Didot. View at Google Books. Renieu, Lionel, L'Histoire des Théâtres de Bruxelles: depuis leur origine jusqu'à ce jour, Duchartre & Van Buggenhoudt, 1928. Schneider, Herbert (1992). "Muette de Portici, La", vol. 3, pp. 505–507, in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, edited by Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7 Scribe, Eugène (1875). Oeuvres complètes: Operas, Ballets. Paris: E. Dentu. Copy at HathiTrust; copy at Google Books. Slatin, Sonia. " Opera
and Revolution: La Muette de Portici
and the Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
of 1830 Revisited", Journal of Musicological Research 3 (1979), 45-62. Tamvaco, Jean-Louis (2000). Les Cancans de l'Opéra. Chroniques de l'Académie Royale de Musique et du théâtre, à Paris sous les deux restorations (2 volumes, in French). Paris: CNRS Editions. ISBN 978-2-271-05685-6. Wagner, Richard (trans: W. Ashton Ellis), Prose Works, Vol. 5, New York, 1966 Warrack, John and West, Ewan, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera
New York: Oxford University Press: 1992 ISBN 0-19-869164-5 Wolff, Stéphane (1962; reprint 1983). L'Opéra au Palais Garnier (1875–1962). Paris: Deposé au journal L'Entr'acte OCLC 7068320, 460748195. Paris: Slatkine (1983) ISBN 9782050002142.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to La muette de Portici.

has original text related to this article: La Muette de Portici

La muette de Portici: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) The Standard Opera
Glass Synopsis La muette de Portici, French libretto (Brussels, 1833) at Google Books Masaniello, ovvero, La muta di Portici, Italian libretto (Palermo, 1860) at Google Books Masaniello, English and Italian libretto (Boston, 1865) at Google Books

v t e

Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
and the Independence of Belgium

Belgian Revolution

Belgian Revolution Rattachism Orangism La muette de Portici
(August 1830) La Brabançonne
La Brabançonne
(August 1830) Provisional Government of Belgium
(September 1830 - February 1831) National Congress of Belgium
(November 1830) Constitution of Belgium
(February 1831)

First Belgian monarchs

Érasme, Baron Surlet de Chokier (Regent; February 1831 - July 1831) Leopold I (King of the Belgians; July 1831 - December 1865)

Important figures

Charles Niellon Alexandre Dechet
Alexandre Dechet
(Jenneval) Frédéric de Mérode Juan Van Halen (see also List of members of the National Congress)

Provisional Government

Alexandre Gendebien André Jolly Charles Rogier Louis de Potter Sylvain Van de Weyer Feuillien de Coppin Félix de Mérode Joseph Vanderlinden Emmanuel Van der Linden d'Hooghvorst

de Gerlache Government

Étienne Constantin de Gerlache Charles de Brouckère Alexandre Gendebien Albert Goblet d'Alviella Sylvain Van de Weyer

Lebeau I Government

Joseph Lebeau Étienne de Sauvage Charles de Brouckère Paul Devaux

United Kingdom of the Netherlands

King William I Prince William Ten Days' Campaign
Ten Days' Campaign
(August 1831) Siege of Antwerp (1832)


London Conference of 1830 Treaty of the Eighteen Articles (1831) Treaty of London (1839) Treaty of Maastricht (1843) Iron Rhine
Iron Rhine
Treaty (1873)

Monuments and honours

Martyrs' Square Congress Column Civic Guard Merit Medal 1830 Star of Honour Iron Cross 1830 Volunteers' Commemorative Cross

Authority control

Identities VIAF: 174164179 LCCN: n82202002 GND: 300003250 SUDOC: 156504502 BNF: