VIVE LA FRANCE! SAVORING FRENCH OPERA Kip Cranna, Dramaturg Emeritus, San Francisco Opera Summer 2021, Wednesdays, 2:30-4:00pm
French operas are famed for their colorful sororities, refined expression, delicate sensibilities and grand pageantry. This online course will offer a musical journey through the full range of France's great opera composers, including Baroque masterworks by Lully and Rameau, Classic Period operas by Gluck, French grand operas by Meyerbeer and Berlioz, standard repertoire works by Bizet, Gounod, Offenbach, and Saint-Saëns, romantic favorites by Massenet, and 20th-century works by Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc and Messiaen. Video and audio examples (with English subtitles) will focus on listening skills, with biographical and literary background review putting each work in is historical context.
Clifford (Kip) Cranna, Dramaturg Emeritus of San Francisco Opera, served on the staff for over forty years and was Director of Music Administration for over thirty years. In 2008 he was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor, and in 2012 he received the Bernard Osher Cultural Award for distinguished efforts to bring excellence to a cultural institution. In 2014 he received the Star of Excellence Award for outstanding service to the programs of the San Francisco Opera Guild. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University. For thirty years he was Program Editor and Lecturer for the Carmel Bach Festival. He lectures and writes frequently on opera appreciation in the Bay Area and teaches at the OLLIs of UC Berekeley, San Francisco State, and Domonican University as well as at the Fromm Institute at USF. www.KipCranna.com [email protected]
Schedule of Classes • Week I (June 2): French Baroque and Classic Lully, M.A. Charpentier, Rameau, Gluck • Week II (June 9): Grand Opéra Meyerbeer, Berlioz, Thomas • Week III (June 16): French Favorites Gounod, Offenbach • Week IV (June 23): More French Favorites Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Massenet, G. Charpentier • Week V (June 30): French Opera in the Twentieth Century Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Messiaen
Operas to be featured include: Class I: Jean-Baptiste Lully: Armide (1686) Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Indes Galantes (The Amorous Indies) (1735) Christoph Willabald Gluck: Orphée et Euridice (Orpheus and Euridice) (774) Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride (Iphigenia in Tauris) (1779)
Class II: Luigi Cherubini: Medée (Medea) (1797) Gioachino Rossini: Guillaume Tell (William Tell) (1829) Giacomo Meyerbeer: Robert le Diable (Robert the Devil) (1831) Meyerbeer: Les Huguenots (The Hugenots) (1836) Hector Berlioz: Les Troyens (The Trojans) (1858) Ambroise Thomas: Hamlet (1868)
Charles Gounod: Faust (1859) Gounod: Roméo et Juliette (1867) Jacques Offenbach: Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) (1858) Offenbach: La grande-duchesse de Gérolstein (1867) Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) (1881)
Class IV: Georges Bizet: Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) (1863) Bizet: Carmen (1875) Camille Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila (1877) Massenet: Manon (1884) Gustave Charpentier: Louise (1900)
Class V: Claude Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande (1902) Maurice Ravel: L’heure espangole (The Spanish Hour) (1911) Ravel: L'enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells) (1925) Francis Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites (Dialogues of the Carmelites) (1957) Olivier Messiaen: Saint François d'Assise (Saint Francis of Assisi ) (1983) Kaija Saariaho: L’amour de loin (Love From Afar) (2000)
French Opera: A Short History, by Vincent Giroud. Yale University Press, 2010. This is the best overall survey of French opera in English, with lots of historical background and a good discussion of stylistic matters.
The Keys to French Opera in the Nineteen Century, by Hervé Lacombe. University of California Press, 2001. This is a scholarly investistigation of French grand opera, with particular emphasis the creation, esthetics, and social context of Bizet’s opera Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers).
Opera in Paris, 1800-1850, by Patrick Barbier. Amadeus Press, 1987. This is a very readable social history of opera in Paris in the first part of the 19th- Century, with entertaining chapters on such things as “Napoleon and the Opera,” “Scenery and Stage Machinery,” “Society and Customs,” and “Cliches and Rivalries”
French Baroque Music, by James R. Anthony. W.W. Norton & Co., 1974. For those particularly interested in French opera in the 18th Century, this study offers valuable insights into the stage works of Lully and Rameau.