Skip to main content

Venetian Terreur, French Heroism and Fated Love in Halévy’s Historical Grand Opéra

Category :

In setting Saint-Georges’s reimagined story of the Venetian-born Cypriot queen Catarina Cornaro, Halévy undoubtedly sensed the theatrical appeal of Catarina’s thwarted marriage, the conflicted rivalry of exiled French chevaliers who claimed her hand, and the musical-dramatic colors promised by exotic, festive scenes in Venice and Cyprus. Moreover, he may have been touched by nostalgia for Italy, a country that he had enthusiastically explored during his early Prix de Rome years. But, according to the composer’s brother, artistic partner, and biographer Léon Halévy, an important inspiration for this opera of 1841 was the “sombre et mystérieuse terreur” of Venice, an image that tapped into a rich vein of politically charged representations of the Venetian republic that either alluded to or overtly condemned the secretive despotism of its early patrician rulers. Léon’s reference to Venetian “terreur” appears to signal a common view of the city’s tyranny that was illustrated in plays, operas and histories of the period and that bore reminders of abuses of power closer to home.

CD-Book Fromental Halévy. La Reine de Chypre (2018).

Scientific publications

Related works

La Reine de Chypre

Fromental HALÉVY




Related persons


Fromental HALÉVY

(1799 - 1862)


publication date : 09/01/24