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Jongleur de Notre-Dame, Le (Léna / Massenet)




Miracle in 3 acts premiered at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo on 18 February 1902. French premiere at the Opéra-Comique (Paris) on 10 May 1904. After L’Étui de Nacre by Anatole France.


In his memoirs, Massenet writes that a complete libretto was sent to him anonymously at a time when he had just resolved never to compose for the stage again. Beside himself with enthusiasm for what he had just read, the “woman’s musician” was nevertheless delighted with this piece with no female role, except for a silent appearance by the Virgin Mary. Agreeing to set the poem to music, Massenet was informed by his concierge of the identity of its author: Maurice Léna. The story traces its origins back to the Miracles de Nostre-Dame by Gautier de Coincy (circa 1218) and its adaptation by Anatole France in L’Étui de Nacre(1892). The poor juggler, Jean, is taken in by the monks at the monastery in Cluny. Like all the monks there, he wishes to honour the Virgin and begins to give his usual performance before the altar. The monks take offence at his impertinence while the statue of the Virgin comes to life and blesses the juggler, who dies of ecstasy. The high quality of this naive, yet innovative, libretto allowed Massenet to create one of his most moving works. The entire score is full of devout sentiment, combined with popular wit and soft archaic colours. The “Alleluia du Vin” (Jean) and the “Légende de la Sauge” (Boniface) are the most famous pieces in this opera. Contacted by director Raoul Gunsbourg on behalf of the Prince of Monaco, Massenet began a productive collaboration with the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame was premiered there on 18 February 1902 with Adolphe Maréchal (Jean), who also starred in the French premiere in 1904 at the Opéra-Comique, alongside Lucien Fugère (Boniface) and André Allard (Le Prieur). Deeply attached to this work, Massenet later admitted: “Le Jongleur is my faith”. 

    Images - 11
  • Lucien Fugère en Frère Boniface (Le Jongleur de Notre Dame de Massenet)
  • Lucien Fugère et André Allard dans Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame de Massenet (acte I)
  • Maurice Maréchal en Jongleur de Notre-Dame (Massenet)
  • Scène du Jongleur de Notre-Dame de Massenet (acte I)
  • Scène du Jongleur de Notre-Dame de Massenet (acte II : à l'intérieur du couvent)
  • Scène du Jongleur de Notre-Dame de Massenet (acte II)
  • Display more
    Libretto - 1
  • Jongleur de Notre-Dame, Le [mise en scène d'Albert Carré]
  • Persons - 2
  • LÉNA, Maurice (1859-1928)
  • MASSENET, Jules (1842-1912)
  • Theme - 1
  • Lieux de musique – Opéra de Monte-Carlo