Sauturenne, Thierry – Women and the Revolution in French opera
It took a hundred years, no less, for France to assimilate the legacy of the French Revolution and finally establish the foundations of the Third Republic. Works about that period written by nineteenth-century authors Jules Michelet, Edgar Quinet, Adolphe Thiers and Jean Jaurès encouraged awareness through an expression of republican zeal, while their predecessors Joseph de Maistre and Louis de Bonald, who had been severely critical of both the Revolution and the philosophy of the Enlightenment, had influenced writers such as Honoré de Balzac and Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly in their portrayals of a society built upon the ruins of the Ancien Régime. As for the Goncourt brothers, well-known for their keen interest in the eighteenth century, their consequent aversion to the cataclysm of the Revolution is perfectly summed up in the final words of the play La Patrie en Danger (1868), uttered with lofty composure by an old canoness when she is summoned to mount the scaffold: ‘On y va, canaille!’ (‘We’re going, you scum!’). And shortly before the First World War (1912), Anatole France referred to the Reign of Terror when he expounded his thoughts on fanaticism in the novel Les Dieux ont soif.
From the CD-Book Thérèse de Massenet (Palazzetto Bru Zane, collection Opéra français, 2013). Translation: Mary Pardoe.
- Thérèse (Claretie / Massenet)