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French Opera at the Fin de Siecle$
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Steven Huebner

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189544

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189544.001.0001

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Saint‐SaËns on the Cusp

Saint‐SaËns on the Cusp

Chapter:
(p.206) 12 Saint‐SaËns on the Cusp
Source:
French Opera at the Fin de Siecle
Author(s):

Steven Huebner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189544.003.0013

This chapter focuses on Saint-SaËns's opera, Samson et Dalila. Relatively early on the composer had a premonition that this opera would be his finest accomplishment in the theatre. Like Massenet, he sought to achieve musical and dramatic continuity across operatic acts, as well as a marriage between developmental techniques and number opera with voice-dominated, cantabile phrases. In this respect, the second act is a remarkable achievement: the imbrication of the symphonic-developmental and number-operatic is particularly tight and worked out with cogent dramatic effect. It is among the most successful examples of this synthesis in the fin-de-siècle repertory, all the more striking because of its early date of composition and a relatively limited use of leitmotifs in the opera as a whole.

Keywords:   Samson et Dalila, French opera, number-operatic, symphony

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