Massenet, Jules (Émile Frédéric)

views updated May 21 2018

Massenet, Jules (Émile Frédéric) (b Montaud, St Étienne, 1842; d Paris, 1912). Fr. composer. Won Grand Prix de Rome and spent 3 years in Rome; returned to Paris 1866, his first (1-act) opera being prod. at Opéra-Comique 1867. His oratorios est. his name until the opera Hérodiade (a version of the Salome story) in 1881, but his greatest success came in 1884 with Manon. He was prof. of advanced comp. at Paris Cons. 1878–96. Among his later successes was Don Quichotte, prod. Monte Carlo 1910, with Chaliapin in the title-role. Massenet used Wagner's leitmotiv device, but translated it into his melodious and agreeable style, a style considered by some to be saccharine but which has won admiration in the later 20th cent. for its stylishness, craftsmanship, sense of th., and understanding of the human v. Prin. works:OPERAS: La Grand' Tante (1867); Don César de Bazan (1872); Le Roi de Lahore (1875–6); Hérodiade (1878–81, rev. 1883); Manon (1882–3, rev. 1884); Le Cid (1884–5); Werther (1885–7); Esclarmonde (1888); Le Mage (1889–90); Amadis (1889–90, 1910–11); Thaïs (1892–3, rev. 1897); Le Portrait de Manon (1893); La Navarraise (1893); Grisélidis (1894, rev. 1898); Cendrillon (1895); Sapho (1896, rev. 1909); Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame (1900); Roma (1902, 1909); Chérubin (1902–3); Ariane (1904–5); Thérèse (1905–6); Bacchus (1907–8); Don Quichotte (1908–9); Panurge (1911); Cléopâtre (1911–12).BALLETS: Le Carillon (1892); Cigale (1904); Espada (1908).ORATORIOS & CANTATAS: David Rizzio (1863); Marie-Magdeleine (1873, rev. as opera 1906); Eve (1875); Narcisse (1877); La Vierge (1880); Biblis (1886); La Terre Promise (1900).ORCH.: Scènes hongroises (1871); Scènes pittoresques (1874); Scènes napolitaines (1876); Scènes alsaciennes (1881); Marche solennelle (1897); Fantaisie, vc. and orch. (1897); pf. conc. (1903).Also about 200 songs, some with orch.

Massenet, Jules

views updated Jun 11 2018


Romanticist opera composer; b. Montaud, France, May 12, 1842 (baptized Jules Émile Frédéric); d. Paris, Aug. 13, 1912. He was a graduate of the Paris Conservatory, which he had entered at age nine; he won the Prix de Rome in 1863, and in 1878 was appointed professor of counterpoint and composition at the conservatory. Although he was most successful in opera, Manon (1884) being accounted his masterpiece, some of his best early compositions, e.g., Eve and Marie-Magdeleine, were oratorios with religious themes. Marie-Magdeleine, as converted to an opera in 1903, is a travesty on the Gospels. Le Jongleur de Nôtre Dame (1902), in contrast, has a moving libretto and tastefully handled religious episodes, but the absence of a female role and a general lack of austerity are probably the chief obstacles to its revival. All his other operas, notably Hérodiade and Thaïs (from which the popular "Méditation religieuse" of violin repertory is taken), are marked by an authentic lyricism and sense of theater, and marred by a lack of spiritual depth and a too-obvious desire to please the public. His work for the lyric theater influenced debussy and, even more strongly, puccini.

Bibliography: j. e. f. massenet, My Recollections, tr. h. v. barnett (Boston 1919). h. t. finck, Massenet and His Operas (New York 1910). a. bruneau, Massenet (Paris 1935). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, ed. n. slonimsky (5th, rev. ed. New York 1958) 104546. j.-c. branger, "Mes souvenirs : De nouvelles sources relatives aux Mémoires de Jules Massenet," Revue de Musicologie 83 (1997) 117135. j. a. feldman, "Manon " in International Dictionary of Opera 2 v. ed. c. s. larue (Detroit 1993) 798799. j. w. hansen, "Sibyl Sanderson's Influence on Manon," The Opera Quarterly 15/1 (1999) 3848. c. headington, "Werther " in International Dictionary of Opera 2v., ed. c. s. larue, (Detroit 1993) 14561457. d. irvine, Massenet: A Chronicle of His Life and Times (Portland, Oregon 1994). s. willier, "Le Roi de Lahore " International Dictionary of Opera 2 v., ed. c. s. larue (Detroit 1993) 11271128.

[r. m. longyear]

Massenet, Jules Émile-Frédéric

views updated May 23 2018

Massenet, Jules Émile-Frédéric (1842–1912) French Romantic composer who dominated 19th-century French lyric opera. He composed many operas, including Le Cid (1885), Werther (1892). and Thérèse (1909). His two masterpieces are considered to be Manon (1884) and Thaïs (1894).