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Richard Wagner, Louis de Fourcaud, and a Path for French Opera in the 1880s

Keywords: Wagnerian movement , France , French Opera

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Abstract:

In a much-quoted interview with Richard Wagner conducted by the French critic Louis de Fourcaud in 1879, and published in different versions in 1880, 1884, and 1886, the composer allegedly advised the French to write operas drawing on their own legendary sources. Contemporary works such as d’Indy’s Fervaal, Chausson’s Le Roi Arthus, and Massenet’s Esclarmonde suggest that Fourcaud’s interview did indeed have a profound impact on the Wagnerian movement in France. However, a close examination of the sources reveals that his text owes much less to Wagner than scholars have previously assumed: in fact, evidence suggests that the most important part of the interview (that is, the advice to French composers) was added by Fourcaud himself after Wagner’s death.

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