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Camille Saint-SaënsOn Music and Musicians$
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Roger Nichols

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320169

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320169.001.0001

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In Defence of Opéra-Comique

In Defence of Opéra-Comique

(“La défense de l’opéra-comique”, Portraits et Souvenirs, Société d’édition artistique, 1899, 169–176)

9 In Defence of Opéra-Comique
Camille Saint-Saëns

Roger Nichols

Oxford University Press

This chapter holds that intolerance in art is attacking the genre of opéra-comique. As the need for action to deal with this is becoming urgent, the author takes the task upon himself to defend it. Opéra-comique, according to its enemies, is a false, despicable genre because the mixture of singing and dialogue is something abominable and ridiculous, and incompatible with art. Those who subscribe to this view do not stint their praise for two works which they place above all criticism: these two are Der Freischütz and Fidelio, and they both belong to the disparaged species in question. The system of scenes alternately spoken and sung may appear highly irrational and displeasing to a critical ear, but the fact that it has survived so long, with such success, proves that it has its uses.

Keywords:   opéra-comique, comedy, singing, dialogue, Der Freischütz, Fidelio

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