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Berlioz on MusicSelected Criticism 1824-1837$
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Katherine Kolb

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199391950

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391950.001.0001

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Music Review

Music Review

Royal Academy of Music: First Performance of La Juive, Opera in Five Acts by MM. Scribe and Halévy

Chapter:
(p.133) 24 Music Review
Source:
Berlioz on Music
Author(s):

Katherine Kolb

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391950.003.0025

The opening of this review—”Another awful nightmare!”—is hardly promising. Berlioz explains that he is referring to the expected plot summary, a dreary task that will inevitably bore his readers. In fact his lively narrative, which occupies most of the review, proves anything but boring, leading one to suspect other causes for his nightmare. Chief among them is the eye-popping, clanging excess of the production: never has the Opéra spent so much or indulged so much in spectacle. There is an organ, there are even horses onstage! Berlioz also has no taste for tragic endings, still uncommon in opera, nor especially for the horror of this one, which finishes off the heroine in a cauldron of boiling oil. When he comes around to judging Halévy’s work, Berlioz is not unsympathetic, but says very little about it. This underlines his point, that scenery and spectacle have buried the music.

Keywords:   Halévy La Juive, Scribe, organ in theaters, production excesses, operatic plot summaries, horses onstage, tragic endings in opera

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