Paris: A. Durand & Fils [PN D. & F. 6332.], 1904. Small folio. Original publisher's dark ivory wrappers printed in green and dark gold. 1f. (frontispiece with a scene from the Poème illustrated by G. Rochegrosse and phototypeset by Berthaud in Paris), 1f. (title), 1f. (dedication to Prince Albert I of Monaco), 1f. (named cast list), 1f. (table of contents), 132 pp.
Named cast includes Melba, Blot, Hégon, and Alvarez.
Publisher's monogrammatic handstamp to verso of final free endpaper.
Wrappers slightly worn, soiled, browned, and stained; upper detached; spine reinforced with brown tape. Lightly browned; some leaves partially or wholly detached; very slight loss to blank lower outer corners of several leaves, not affecting music; upper outer corners of pp. 129-131 slightly creased.
First Edition. Ratner II pp. 273 and plate 26 (facsimile of frontispiece).
Hélène, to Saint-Saëns's own libretto, was first performed in Monte-Carlo at the Théâtre de Monte-Carlo on February 18, 1904.
"Saint-Saëns was among the many critics of Offenbach’s La belle Hélène who objected to the operetta’s lax moral tone and its trivialization of the ancient world. In his own treatment of the story of Paris and Helen he aspired to a more serious and exalted level, even though the opera displays the triumph of Eros and celebrates sexual passion more strongly than any other of Saint-Saëns’ operas. Hélène was the first of his operas composed for the theatre at Monte Carlo then under the enterprising direction of Raoul Gunsbourg. It is also the first for which he wrote his own libretto, in strongly poetic rhyming verse. Melba sang the title role, and it shared a double bill with Massenet’s veristic La Navarraise." Hugh Macdonald in Grove Music Online. Item #26064
Price: $120.00 other currencies