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Félicien David. Herculanum

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Couverture Livre-disque HerculanumCD-Book. Bru Zane Label. French Opera Collection n. 10.

Félicien David was already famous through his “ode-symphonie” Le Désert (1844) when his opera Herculanum was first staged at the Paris Opéra in 1859. This ambitious work, later to gain him entrance to the Opéra-Comique and the Institut de France, also played a part in earning him the Légion d’Honneur. Leaving behind the Middle Eastern inflections of his earlier scores, Herculanum is a remarkably strong composition (vast, intensely dramatic scenes), impressive in the diversity of its style (including Verdian influences) and its vocal variety (including the rare coloratura contralto voice often used by Rossini). There is also a fantastic vein, as made popular by Boieldieu (La Dame blanche, 1825) and Meyerbeer (Robert le Diable, 1831); but the supernatural is used here to serve an openly stated mysticism: the eruption of Vesuvius brings a spectacular, cataclysmic ending, signifying the decadence of the ancient world and the triumph of Christianity.


Ralph P. Locke – Félicien David : not satellite but star

Étienne Jardin – Herculanum in David’s output

Hector Berlioz – An account of the première

Alexandre Dratwicki – Herculanum in a time of change in French grand opéra

Gunther Braam – The reception of Herculanum in the contemporary press

Joseph Méry – To Lilia


Related works


Félicien DAVID


Joseph MÉRY Terence HADOT


Related persons


Félicien DAVID

(1810 - 1876)


Joseph MÉRY

(1797 - 1866)


Terence HADOT

(Avant 1835 - Après 1865)