3 pp. of a bifolium. Octavo. Dated Égreville (S[eine]. et Marne), France, August 19, 1902. In French (with translation).
Raoul Gunsbourg, director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, has told Massenet that his correspondent, most probably the tenor Francesco Tamagno, will participate in a production of Hérodiade the following March. Massenet hopes the star-studded cast, which includes Emma Calvé, Blanche Deschampes-Jéhin, and Maurice Renaud, will sing in French; he coaxes Tamagno to do the same.
"It is my dream that our friends Mlle. Calvé, Mme. Deschamps-Jéhin, Mr. Renaud sing in French--thus, I beg you, as a personal service, to sing in French as well... You can absolutely do it, and it will be so interesting, so successful!"
Slightly soiled; creased at folds; green pencilled lines around the sender's address to upper right portion of first page.
Tamagno (1850-1905) was the foremost heroic tenor of his time. After his first appearance at La Scala, in 1877, he created the title roles in Verdi's Don Carlos (1878) and Othello (1887), among other operas. Although Tamagno usually sang French grand operas in Italian, he did indeed make an exception for the 1903 Monte Carlo production of Hérodiade.
Premiered at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels on December 19, 1881, Hérodiade is generally regarded as the best of Massenet's three attempts at traditional grand opera. The work's strength lies in "familiar Massenet territory: erotic obsession," particularly in the musical characterization of Herod. Until the turn of the century, the opera was staged frequently on both sides of the Atlantic. In part because its five leading roles are rewarding to star singers, it has never fallen out of the repertory. Rodney Milnes in Grove Music Online.
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