Catalogue


Le prophète : the manuscript facsimile /
Giacomo Meyerbeer ; introduced and edited by Robert Letellier.
imprint
Newcastle-upon-Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006.
description
1 score (xv, 963 p.) : port. ; 21 x 30 cm.
ISBN
190430382X, 9781904303824
format(s)
Score
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Newcastle-upon-Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006.
isbn
190430382X
9781904303824
general note
Libretto by E. Scribe.
Opera in 5 acts.
Poor quality of reproduction.
Reproduces the ex-Berlin Staatsbibliothek autograph score in the Biblioteka Jagiellońska, Kraków (Mus. Mb. 939).
language note
French words.
catalogue key
6090224
A Look Inside
Reviews
Review Quotes
Robert Letellier is a Meyerbeer scholar who has published extensively, including a four volume English version of the composer's diaries.
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Summaries
Main Description
Le Prophète is the second panel of Meyerbeer''s Reformation diptych, his darkest and most mysterious opera. It explores issues of power and religion, fanaticism and faith, betrayal and trust, the demonic forces of history and the witness of little people caught up in them''the ultimate and enduring sacrificial power of love. In some ways it is almost like a political pamphlet or religious tract, and its oppressive but fascinating world can cast a compulsive spell.The plot is based on the revolt of the Westphalian Anabaptists under the leadership of the Leyden tailor Johann Bockholdt in 1537-38. Meyerbeer, as usual, studied the historical period carefully, and the opera is especially remarkable for its vivid human portraiture, its psychological realism mixed with religious mysticism, prophecy, dreams, unconscious promptings, telepathy, aspiration, conversion, rich in mythical resonance. The composer created a sustained atmosphere of menace and gloom by his dark orchestral colouring. This is contrasted with the pastoral escapism and orchestral brilliance of the famous Skaters'' Ballet, a contersign to the actions of cruelty and betrayal that characterize the action.The draft of a letter by Scribe of 23 April 1836 gives the first clue to a the new opera and its theme: the original title of Les Anabaptistes. However, it was held back in favour of another new project, L''Africaine (1865), for which a contract was signed, but dissatisfaction with the libretto, as well as the vocal difficulties of Marie-Cornélie Falcon meant that in the summer of 1838 Meyerbeer decided to give Le Prophète immediate attention. Performances planned for the winter season of 1841-42 came to nothing because Meyerbeer could only prepare a provisional score by the stipulated contractual delivery date (27 March 1841). All further efforts by the director of the Opéra, Léon Pillet, to conclude a contract came to nothing because in June 1842 Meyerbeer was appointed Prussian Generalmusikdirektor and was consequently tied to his duties in Berlin most of the time.In December 1843 Meyerbeer further had the opportunity to convince himself that Guilbert Duprez was no longer suitable for the role of Jean. Only on 1 July 1847, with the departure of Pillet, and under the joint new directorship of Nestor Roqueplan and Edmond Duponchel, was contact with the Opéra resumed. Eventually Pauline Viardot-Garcia and Gustave-Hippolyte Roger were chosen for the principal roles. Meyerbeer began a revision of the libretto with Scribe in early 1848 (focusing especially on the psychological nuances in the tripartite relationship between Jean, Fidès and Berthe, while hardly touching the depiction of the Anabaptists and the masses). and in early 1848, Emile Deschamps, who was sworn to secrecy, began putting Meyerbeer''s special requirements into verse. Meyerbeer himself composed new pieces for the opera (while revolution raged on the streets of Paris), and then began a thorough overhaul of the score.In actual history, the "Prophet" was a complete wretch whose profligacy cast a stigma on his sect that deprived it of further political status, Yet his rise from a tailor''s bench to the throne of "Zion" and his subsequent execution in the Münster market place are the stuff of drama. Scribe''s character is, in his own right, an extremely interesting figure, spiritually speaking: he is a genuine man of faith, but also an imposter who is ruthless but not entirely despicable. The depth of his human dilemma is successfully realized. George Bernard Shaw described him as alive and romantic, and there can be no doubt that the composer succeeded in heightening the effect of the drama by his deepening of the hero''s psychology. The heart of the action lies in the mysterious, indeed ambiguous nature of the Prophet, and his relationship with his peasant mother, Fidès. Meyerbeer forged a magnificent maternal role, a deeply interesting fictional character, a pious woman, tenderhearted and yet energetic, seeking

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