One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Massenet (1842-1912) - Ballet Music from 'Le Cid'

French audiences certainly liked their ballet, to the extent that they insisted all their operas include a ballet-divertimento (presumably to relieve the tedium?). Even Wagner was expected to comply. This obligation, for the Paris performance of Tannhäuser, he met by revising the end of the overture, and thereby preserving unrelieved the succeeding three hours of tedium. 

Massenet's opera, of 1885, was based on Pierre Corneille's tragedy recounting the story of “Le Cid”, the nickname of a famous Twelfth Century Spanish warrior (whose real name, I seem to recall, was Charlton Heston). Massenet, of course, placed his ballet-divertimento slap-bang in the middle of the opera. The scene is a gathering of people in the Great Square of Burgos, providing the flimsy excuse for an utterly irrelevant celebration of the diversity of Spanish provincial dances. Among the titles, (Castillane - Andalouse - Aragonaise - Aubade - Catalane -  Madrilène - Navarraise), only “Aubade” seems to lack any provincial connotation, largely on account of its being a “morning dance”. 

The music is extremely beautifully crafted, capturing the vibrant sensuality of Spanish folk styles as convincingly as any non-Spaniard (even Ravel!). Packed with mesmerising rhythms, lustrous colour, and some absolutely peachy tunes, this music is sheer delight from first to last.

© Paul Serotsky
29, Carr Street, Kamo, Whangarei 0101, Northland, New Zealand


Conditions for use apply. Details here
Copyright in these notes is retained by the author without whose prior written permission they may not be used, reproduced, or kept in any form of data storage system. Permission for use will generally be granted on application, free of charge subject to the conditions that (a) the author is duly credited, and (b) a donation is made to a charity of the author's choice.

Return to: Music on the Web