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Amadis (Claretie / Massenet)

Date

1922.4.1

Description

Opéra légendaire in 4 acts, premiered at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo on 1 April 1922, after the composer’s death. After Amadis de Gaula by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo (1508). 

Text

The story takes place in Armorica, where the twins Amadis and Galaor–the offspring of a forbidden love–are separated at the age of four, wearing a stone carved by Merlin around their necks. When they become adults, they fight to win the same woman. Amadis wounds Galaor and realises only too late that he is wearing a stone like his own. As Galaor dies, he blesses his brother’s union. Although this was Massenet’s last, posthumous work, Amadiswas started very early. The orchestral score was completed in 1890, and the composer notes in his memoirs that he put it in a friend’s strong box in 1891, after his publisher Hartmann went bankrupt. The first revisions were carried out in 1901 and 1902, while the  composer was working on Grisélidis and the Jongleur de Notre-Dame and was fully immersed in the Middle Ages. However, it was in the spring and summer of 1910 that he undertook a final and ambitious revision of the opera, rewriting the title role for Lucy Arbell instead of Jeanne Raunay. The modifications and the production of a fair copy were begun in Paris, continued in St-Aubin and then at the house in Égreville, which Massenet left at the end of August when he was rushed into hospital. There are no sources establishing the date when Massenet deemed the work completed. The fact that this opera was twenty-one years in the making, was based on a poem combining Christian and Pagan supernatural forces, and called for dramatic devices using magic and requiring ingenious stage effects, make Amadis one of  Massenet’s most ambitious works. The opera was premiered on 1 April 1922 at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, with Djéma Vécla (Amadis), Nelly Martyl (Floriane) and Paul Goffin (Galaor), under the baton of Léon Jehin.