Home / Works / Vestale, La (Jouy / Spontini)

Print content of page

Vestale, La (Jouy / Spontini)

Date

1807.12.15

Description

Tragédie lyrique in three acts, first performed at the Académie Impériale de Musique (Paris Opéra) on 15 December 1807. Dedicated to the Empress Josephine.

Text

Guilty of having allowed the sacred fire to go out in the temple of Vesta while with her beloved (the Roman general Licinius), Julia is sentenced to death. As she is about to be buried alive, lightning reignites the flame, which is seen as a sign from the gods. The young vestal is released and is then married to Licinius. The plot is simple and the libretto focuses on the psychological depth of the protagonists and the transparency of the political allusions. In an opera dedicated to Josephine, how could anyone fail to identify the character of the victorious general, Licinius, with Napoleon Bonaparte? Furthermore, the tensions that appear in the last act between the determination of the military leader and that of a religious world intent on upholding its own laws (a dilemma settled by the gods themselves in the hero’s favour) has to be understood in the light of the Concordat of 1801. More than just a work of propaganda, La Vestale asserts itself through Spontini’s score as one of the links between the tragédie lyrique of the Ancien Régime and the grand opéra genre. The overlapping of the various numbers and the lively treatment of the various scenes testify to a densification of the dramatic action that was peculiar to Gluck’s successors at the Paris Opéra. Focusing on the character of Julia, the work requires the presence on stage of an exceptional soprano. Caroline Branchu (1780-1850), described by Berlioz as “la tragédie lyrique incarnée”(“the embodiment of tragédie lyrique”), made a lasting impression on her contemporaries when she created the role. And it was thanks to the charisma of Maria Callas that the work was revived in the twentieth century, at La Scala, Milan, in 1954.

    Images - 5
  • Caroline Branchu dans La Vestale de Spontini
  • Affiche du Grand festival dédié à la mémoire d'Hector Berlioz (22 mars 1870)
  • La Vestale (Jouy / Spontini)
  • La Vestale aux arènes de Béziers
  • La Vestale aux arènes de Béziers
  • Persons - 2
  • JOUY, Étienne de (1764-1846)
  • SPONTINI, Gaspare (1774-1851)
  • Themes - 5
  • Institution – Opéra de Paris
  • Lieux de musique – Théâtre National de la rue de la Loi (salle Montansier)
  • Napoleon and music
  • Opera – Opera in France in the nineteenth century
  • Opéra – La tragédie lyrique après Gluck
  • Press articles -  11
  • Affiches, annonces et avis divers ou Journal général de France, 17 décembre 1807 [La Vestale de Spontini]
  • Gazette de France, 17 décembre 1807 [La Vestale de Spontini]
  • Gazette nationale ou Le Moniteur universel, 16 décembre 1807 [La Vestale de Spontini]
  • Gazette nationale ou Le Moniteur universel, 21 décembre 1807 [La Vestale de Spontini]
  • Journal de l’Empire, 18 décembre 1807 [La Vestale de Spontini]
  • Journal de Paris, 16 décembre 1807 [La Vestale de Spontini]
  • Display more