Madame Chrysanthème (opera)
Madame Chrysanthème is an opera, described as a comédie lyrique, with music by André Messager to a libretto by Georges Hartmann and Alexandre André, after the semi-autobiographical novel Madame Chrysanthème (1887) by Pierre Loti. It consists of four acts with a prologue and an epilogue and is set in Nagasaki, Japan.
Prior to Madame Chrysanthème, Messager had several ballets performed, incidental music for the play Hélène in 1891, and success at the Opéra-Comique in 1890 with La Basoche. Madame Chrysanthème was first performed at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris on 21 January 1893 with Jane Guy and Louis Delaquerrière in the principal roles; there were 16 performances at the theatre in the first year.
There were two performances in Monte Carlo on 21 December 1901 and 3 January 1902 with Mary Garden and Edmond Clément in the principal roles. The opera was also seen at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels, on 9 November 1906, Montreal in 1912, and Chicago and New York in 1920.
Although using the same literary source as the short story upon which David Belasco founded his play upon which Puccini's Madama Butterfly was also based, Madame Chrysanthème contrasts strongly with the mainly internal world of the Puccini setting. The alternation of acts in public and private spaces in Messager's work provides other aspects on the Japan as depicted in the opera, reminding the listener of a teeming world effectively beyond the reach of Europeans: between Messager and Puccini there is a significant contrast between Pierre's failure to understand and master Chrysanthème and Pinkerton's dominance and possession of Butterfly.
A highlight of the score is the soprano air "Le jour sous le soleil béni...".
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast,
12 December 1893
(Conductor: André Messager)
|Monsieur Kangourou||tenor||Charles Lamy|
|Un gabier (topman)||–||Gesta|
|Premièr Officier René||bass||Chassaing|
|Deuxieme Officer Charles||bass||Halary|
|Madame Chrysanthème||soprano||Jane Guy|
|Chorus: Officers, sailors, Europeans, Japanese.|
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