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Condé, Gérard – La Jacquerie: an overview




Nineteenth-century criticism invented the category of ‘symphonists’ as a way of pigeonholing those composers whose pronounced taste for complex rhythms, rare harmonies, unprecedented modulations and recondite orchestrations supposedly prevented them from achieving success in the operatic genre. Berlioz, Gounod, Saint-Saëns and even Bizet had to confront this prejudice. And Édouard Lalo still more. Until 1865, Lalo had shown very little interest in vocal music beyond his six romances on verse by Béranger and six mélodies on poems by Victor Hugo, while producing works of chamber music (piano trios, a string quartet) on a quite different scale. He preferred to live modestly by giving lessons and playing the violin or the viola here and there rather than knocking on the doors of the theatres. It was probably to offer a role to his young wife, Julie de Maligny, that he embarked in May 1866 on a grand opéra based on Schiller’s play Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua (Fiesco’s Conspiracy at Genoa), in which the republicans struggle in vain against the despotism of Duke Doria. The subject, which was in accordance with his liberal political convictions, left it virtually no chance of receiving a performance under the regime of Napoleon III. Lalo nevertheless submitted his score to the competition organised in 1867 by the Ministère des Beaux-Arts with the lofty motto ‘Qui ne lutte ne choit’ (Who does not struggle does not fall). Placed third out of forty-three, it achieved a very honourable result.

From the CD-Book La Jacquerie de Lalo et Coquard (Palazzetto Bru Zane, collection Opéra français, 2016). Translation: Charles Johnston.

    Persons - 2
  • COQUARD, Arthur (1846-1910)
  • LALO, Édouard (1823-1892)
  • Work - 1
  • Jacquerie, La (É. Blau & S. Arnaud / É. Lalo & A. Coquard)
  • Theme - 1
  • Institution – Opéra de Paris