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Jean de Paris (Godard d'Aucourt de Saint-Just / Boieldieu)

Date

1812.4.4

Text

Performed for the first time at the Opéra-Comique on 4 April 1812, Jean de Paris is an opéra comique in two acts set to a libretto by Claude Gaudart d’Aucourt de Saint-Just. The opera’s title roles were created by two of the leading figures on the Paris opera stage at the time: the baritone Jean Elleviou (in the role of Jean de Paris), and the soprano Louise Lemonnier (as the Princess of Navarre). The libretto tells the story of the romance between the two main characters, the heir to the throne of France and his betrothed, the Princess of Navarre. The former comes up with a plan to test his future wife’s virtue by passing himself off as a humble man called Jean de Paris. Staying in the same hotel as the Princess, he proffers an invitation to dinner, which she accepts, being fully aware of Jean’s cunning scheme. After the two have realised their love for each other, the Princess manages to make her future husband confess his true identity. The work ends happily with their sumptuous wedding celebrations. The overture was taken from the opera Abderkan, first performed in St. Petersburg in 1804. The score is full of tasteful picturesque touches: worthy of note is the instrumentation of Olivier’s aria, “Lorsque mon maître est en voyage”, which attempts to imitate the cracking of the postilion’s whip, and the medieval shading of Jean’s aria “En brave et galant paladin”. The work was hugely successful despite the reservations of certain critics who saw it as a reworking of the Calife de Bagdad by the same composer and librettist, premiered on 16 September 1800 on the same stage. The opera won the approval, however, of some of the most famous Romantic composers of the century: Berlioz paid tribute to its taste and melodic qualities, despite regretting its harmonic simplicity, while Schumann praised the “masterly” instrumentation of the work, which was held up by Wagner as a perfect example of “French spirit”. 

    Images - 2
  • Jean Elleviou en Jean de Paris (Boieldieu)
  • Jean de Paris (Godard d'Aucourt de Saint-Just / Boieldieu)
  • Persons - 2
  • BOIELDIEU, François-Adrien (1775-1834)
  • GODARD D'AUCOURT DE SAINT-JUST, Claude (1768-1826)
  • Themes - 3
  • Institution – Opéra-Comique de Paris
  • Lieux de musique – Salle Feydeau
  • Opéra – L’opéra-comique
  • Study - 1
  • Élart, Joann – Boieldieu en France de la Révolution française à la Première Guerre mondiale. Pour une étude des transferts culturels entre Paris e...