L'enfant prodigue

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For the film of the same name, see: L'Enfant prodigue (film).

L'enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son) is a scène lyrique or cantata in one act by Claude Debussy with a text by Edouard Guinand. The cantata premiered in Paris on 27 July 1884[1] to great success and Debussy won the Prix de Rome for the composition. The prize win garnered Debussy a scholarship to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, which included a four-year residence at the Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome, to further his studies (1885-1887).

Although the work was never intended to be staged, it has on occasion been presented as a one-act opera.[2]


The prodigal son, Azael (tenor), becomes an outcast after leaving his home to pursue the world's extravagant and excessive pleasures. He eventually returns home to his parents, Lia (soprano) and Simeon (baritone), who lovingly welcome him home with forgiving hearts.


  1. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "L'enfant prodigue". Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).
  2. ^ See Sosland (December 2004) and Holland (10 December 2004)