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Campellone, Laurent – Le Mage, a Nietzschean opera?




Published between 1883 and 1885 (Massenet’s Le Mage was premièred in 1891), the first three parts of Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra present the figure of the prophet Zoroaster in a poetic and philosophical work – a ‘fifth gospel’ (Nietzsche’s description), announcing the advent of the New Man. Although the book received only mild acclaim when it was first published, it was shortly taken up by the more progressive wing of the French intellectual elite, having fired its imagination. But is Le Mage, with Zoroaster (Zarastra) as its the central character, to be seen, like Richard Strauss’s eponymous tone poem (1896), as a direct tribute to Nietzsche’s work? Did Jean Richepin really intend his libretto to be a presentation of the founder of Zoroastrianism and of Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra? Is Le Mage a Nietzschean opera? Or, for Massenet, did Zarastra symbolise something else, something of a more political nature?

From the CD-Book Le Mage de Massenet (Palazzetto Bru Zane, collection Opéra français, 2013). Translation: Mary Pardoe.

    Person - 1
  • MASSENET, Jules (1842-1912)
  • Work - 1
  • Mage, Le (Richepin / Massenet)
  • Theme - 1
  • Institution – Opéra de Paris