Jeanne d'Arc on the 1870s Musical Stage: Jules Barbier and Charles Gounod's Melodrama and Auguste Mermet's Opera
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The purpose of this study is to examine the presentation of Joan of Arc's life in two lyric works, Jules Barbier and Charles Gounod's Jeanne d'Arc (1873) and Auguste Mermet's Jeanne d'Arc (1876), that premiered in Paris following the upheaval of the Franco-Prussian War and Paris Commune. Relying on Parisian journals of the day, I follow two trends: some critics called for a historically-informed presentation of Joan's life and others appealed to retain certain supernatural elements, specifically the Fairy Tree and the Voices, of Joan's story. In addition to these trends, I consider an article printed shortly before the premiere of Mermet's opera and discuss the political and religious implications of the final scene (Charles VII Coronation in Reims or Joan's execution in Rouen) in these two stage works. After an introductory chapter and a chapter tracing the geneses of the melodrama and the opera, the remaining chapters each deal specifically with one of the three above-mentioned lines of inquiry as they relate to Joan of Arc's story. Chapter III discusses historical characters (Charles, duc d'Orléans, King René, and Agnès Sorel), historical music (minuet and Vexilla regis), and music believed to have been sung in the presence of Joan of Arc (Veni Creator Spiritus and Orate pro ea). Chapter IV addresses the continuing presence of legendary, supernatural elements--specifically the Fairy Tree and the Voices--and how these elements have changed in nineteenth-century stage works about Joan. In Chapter V, the difficulty of adapting Joan's life on the stage is examined. A closer look reveals that differing views existed during the 1870s as to exactly what her mission entailed. The two works reflect the changing attitudes on this topic. As a whole, this dissertation offers an examination of two rarely discussed stage works that reveal the political, religious, and musical climate surrounding the figure of Joan of Arc in the 1870s.