NATCHITOCHES – The Mrs. H.D. Dear Sr. and Alice E. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts at Northwestern State University will present “A Tribute to Giacomo Meyerbeer” Monday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free. The public is invited.
The tribute will feature NSU faculty Paul Christopher on cello, Dr. Malena McLaren on clarinet and Terrie Sanders on piano and Northwestern State students Emilio Castro and Lincoln Hall on violin and Mario Torres on viola and Milovan Paz, Jorge Rodriguez, Colin Horton, Samantha Carpenter and Adam LeBlanc on cello and soprano Geneva McAuliffe.
Works to be performed are “Sonata for Clarinet and String Quartet in E flat Major,” “Roberto tu che adaro” from “Robert le Diable” and “Reminisences a ‘Robert le Diable’’’ by Meyerbeer.
Just as Offenbach is associated with French operetta, Meyerbeer is associated French Grand Opera. Offenbach and Meyerbeer share a number of traits. They were both Germans of Jewish descent who changed their names, Jacob Offenbach to Jacques Offenbach and Jakob Liebmann Meyer Beer to Giacomo Meyerbeer, and both found their greatest success in Paris.
Meyerbeer began his operatic career as a composer of Italian opera, the most outstanding of which is “Il crociato in Egypt.” This work already exhibits elements of the French Grand Opera style including a large scale design, usually in five acts, which wrestles with philosophical concepts while featuring opulent staging, vocalism, ballet and instrumental display. The successful premiere of Rossini’s “Guillame Tell” in 1829 further convinced Meyerbeer that the future of music rested in this new genre.
Upon receiving a commission from the Paris Opera, Meyerbeer, in collaboration with his librettist Eugene Scribe, composed “Robert le Diable.”
The premiere in 1831 was one of the greatest successes in operatic history. Meyerbeer and Scribe collaborated on four more operas before Meyerbeer’s death in 1864. These works, “Les Huguenots,” “Le prophète,” “L’étoile du nord” and “L’africaine” established Meyerbeer as the most successful and influential composer from the 1830’s until the ascension of Wagner in the latter part of the 19th century.
Unfortunately a number of factors, including changes in musical taste and performance practice, the expense and difficulty in mounting his operas and virulent anti-Semitism led to their virtual disappearance from the active repertoire, thereby relegating Meyerbeer to a footnote in music history.