Digital resources for French Romantic music

Douche, Sylvie – Les Barbares: contemporary criticism




The opera by Saint-Saëns was generally very well received in 1901. For Auguste Mangeot (Le Monde musical, 31 October) it was ‘un nouveau joyau’, a new jewel: an opinion that was shared by several of his colleagues. Nevertheless, after twenty-eight performances at the Paris Opéra the work left the repertoire. By the time of its première the composer had been reaping the honours for several years and was a respected figure in the music world. Déjanire, his ‘tragédie à l’antique’ of 1898, composed for the Béziers arena, was still remembered, and naturally parallels were drawn between the new work and his earlier operas. It is important to bear in mind that those who heard Les Barbares in 1901 did not have the overall view of the composer’s œuvre that we have today, nor therefore the same possibilities for comparison. Until 1904 Saint-Saëns was to devote himself essentially to vocal music; his film music was unknown, as were his late piano works. In this article we shall be considering some of the salient features of Les Barbares and how they were appreciated at the time; for further information, see Camille Saint-Saëns, ‘Les Barbares’: dossier de presse parisienne (1901), ed. Sylvie Douche (Weinsberg: Musik-Edition Lucie Galland, 2005).

From the CD-Book Les Barbares de Saint-Saëns (Palazzetto Bru Zane, collection Opéra français, 2014). Translation: Mary Pardoe.

    Work - 1
  • Barbares, Les (Sardou & Gheusi / Saint-Saëns)
  • Theme - 1
  • Institution – Opéra de Paris
  • Study - 1
  • Teulon Lardic, Sabine – À pleine voix et en plein air à Orange, Nîmes, Béziers : créations et reprises de Saint-Saëns (1894-1921)
  • Press articles -  8
  • Journal des débats, politiques et littéraires, 25 octobre 1901, p.3. [Les Barbares de Saint-Saëns]
  • L’Écho de Paris, 24 octobre 1901 [Les Barbares de Saint-Saëns]
  • La Revue blanche, tome 26 (sept-déc 1901), p. 473-474 [Les Barbares de Saint-Saëns]
  • La Revue politique et littéraire (ou « Revue bleue »), 23 novembre 1901, p. 666-669 [Les Barbares de Saint-Saëns]
  • Le Figaro, 24 octobre 1901, p. 1-2 [Les Barbares de Saint-Saëns]
  • Le Ménestrel, 27 octobre 1901, p.338-339 [Les Barbares de Saint-Saëns]
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