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Ariane (Mendès / Massenet)




Opera in 5 acts premiered at the Paris Opéra on 31 October 1906.


“You know the subject of Ariane. It is classical: Ariane, carried off by Thésée whom she adores, watches as her sister Phèdre gradually replaces her in the hero’s affections and, abandoned on the island of Naxos, commits suicide by throwing herself into the sea. This subject, which is both poetic and philosophical, has haunted me for a long time. And it turned out that it appealed just as strongly to Catulle Mendès.” This is what Massenet told the press, shortly before the work’s premiere. Having already worked as a librettist for Chabrier, Messager, Leroux, Erlanger and Hahn, Catulle Mendès was one of the founders of the Parnasse Contemporain and a Wagnerian from the offset. In the case of Ariane, the symbolic dimension of his writing was conducive to a rich fusion of recollections and premonitions that provided the composer with some ideal material. Massenet loved this poem and began composition in the spring of 1904. Invited to spend the month of August 1905 at the home of Lucy Arbell, he returned with the fourth act, Aux Enfers, largely fleshed out, providing the young tragedienne with the tailor-made role of Perséphone. The score of Ariane is striking for its use of the contrabass clarinet, the bass trumpet and a fourth trombone, increasing the number of lower-pitched instruments and placing the emphasis on the brass and percussion. On a dramatic level, the characters are treated like allegories of an imaginary classical world, although their stature does not cause the vocal colours to become stilted. Requested by Gailhard, Ariane was Massenet’s fifth work to be premiered at the Paris Opéra. Lucienne Bréval (Ariane), Louise Grandjean (Phèdre), Lucien Muratore (Thésée) and Lucy Arbell (Perséphone) were highly acclaimed and the “air des roses” was encored every evening of the sixty performances.

    Images - 8
  • Les héroïnes d'Ariane (Massenet)
  • Lucien Muratore dans différents rôles
  • Lucy Arbell en Perséphone (Ariane de Massenet)
  • Lucy Arbell en Perséphone (Ariane de Massenet)
  • Marcelle Demougeot dans Ariane de Massenet
  • Maria Farneti en Ariane (photographie dédicacée à Massenet)
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    Librettos - 2
  • Ariane (ballet) [mise en scène]
  • Ariane [mise en scène]
  • Persons - 2
  • MASSENET, Jules (1842-1912)
  • MENDÈS, Catulle (1841-1909)
  • Theme - 1
  • Opera – Opera in France in the nineteenth century
  • Press articles -  55
  • Express, 14 novembre 1906 [Ariane de Massenet]
  • Gazette de France, 6 novembre 1906 [Ariane de Massenet]
  • Gil Blas, 1er novembre 1906 [Ariane de Massenet]
  • Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, 2 novembre 1906 [Ariane de Massenet]
  • Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, 4 novembre 1906 [Ariane de Massenet]
  • L’Action, 3 novembre 1906 [Ariane de Massenet]
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