This collection of essays examines the intellectual content and structural underpinning of French Grand Opera, which flourished in Paris from 1828-1870. The genre of tragédie lyrique was renewed and relaunched by Auber with La Muette de Portici (1828) and Rossini with Guillaume Tell (1829). These operas considered the revolutionary struggle for national identity that was a growing issue of the age. The great operas that followed by Meyerbeer and Halévy considered the political situation in terms of religious freedom, the rise of Jewish emancipation and religious toleration in the spread of revolutionary ideals in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. Robert le Diable (1831) had a mythological theme that conjured up the Catholic unity of the Middle Ages, Les Huguenots (1836), conversely, presented with the bloody strife of the Reformation. La Juive (1835) considered the nature of religious freedom in terms of the Jews in Christian society, and Le Prophète (1849) the place of poor people in society, with religion as an ideology of social change also in terms of the Reformation scenario. Later Verdi’s Don Carlos (1867) would present the very issue of personal freedom and its relation to state religion in the dark context of the Spanish Inquisition . All of the chapters address these topics from a variety of perspectives and emphases. What is the nature of faith in relation to intolerance and is fanaticism born of an exegetical process and political ideology? How does the traditional symbolism of faith unfold? How is it underscored by a theological hermeneutic of history? The trajectory is one of idealism sought, as if in recollection of a Golden Age or prelapsarian situation of unity and wholeness. This situation is interestingly addressed, or mirrored in the concept of the pastoral, particularly in regards to dance. The balletic interludes of French Grand Opera in fact developed out of a tradition of diversity in the court of Louis XIV to comment on a deep structure of failed religion and political idealism. (Nova)
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