If one were set upon paradox, it would not be far from the truth to say that up to the middle of the nineteenth century the most famous French composers had been either German or Italian. Certainly if Lulli, Gluck, Rossini and Meyerbeer—to name only a few of the distinguished aliens who settled in Paris—had never existed, French opera of the present day would be a very different thing from what it actually is. Yet in spite of the strangely diverse personalities of the men who had most influence in shaping its destiny, modern French opera is an entity remarkable for completeness and homogeneity, fully alive to tendencies the most advanced, yet firmly founded upon the solid traditions of the past.
His first opera, 'Sapho' (1851), a graceful version of the immortal story of the Lesbian poetess's love and death, has never been really popular, but it is interesting as containing the germs of much that afterwards became characteristic in Gounod's style. In the final scene of Sappho's suicide, the young composer surpassed himself, and struck a note of sensuous melancholy which was new to French opera. 'La Nonne Sanglante' (1854), his next work, was a failure; but in 'Le Médecin malgré lui' (1858), an operatic version of Molière's comedy, he scored a success. This is a charming little work, instinct with a delicate flavour of antiquity, but lacking in comic power. It has often been played in England as 'The Mock Doctor.' Sganarelle is a drunken woodcutter, who is in the habit of beating his wife Martine. She is on the look-
The year 1859 saw the production of 'Faust,' the opera with which Gounod's name is principally associated. The libretto, by MM. Barbier and Carré does not of course claim to represent Goethe's play in any way. The authors had little pretension to literary skill, but they knew their business thoroughly. They fastened upon the episode of Gretchen, and threw all the rest overboard. The result was a well-
The first act shows us Faust as an old man, sitting in his study weary and disappointed. He is about to end his troubles and uncertainty in death, when an Easter hymn sung in the distance by a chorus of villagers seems to bid him stay his hand. With a quick revulsion of feeling he calls on the powers below, and, rather to his surprise, Mephistopheles promptly appears. In exchange for his soul, the devil offers him youth, beauty, and love, and, as an earnest of what is to come, shows him a vision of the gentle Margaret sitting at her spinning wheel. Faust is enraptured, hastily signs the contract, and hurries away with his attendant fiend.
The next act is taken up with a Kermesse in the market-
'Faust' marks the zenith of Gounod's career. After 1859 he was content for the most part merely to repeat the ideas already expressed in his chef-
Philémon et Baucis' (1860) is a charming modernisation of a classical legend. Jupiter and Vulcan, visiting earth for the purpose of punishing the impiety of the Phrygians, are driven by a storm to take refuge in the cottage of an aged couple, Philémon and Baucis. Pleased with the hospitable treatment which he receives at their hands, and touched by the mutual affection of the old people, which time has done nothing to impair, Jupiter restores their lost youth to them. This leads to dangerous complications. The rejuvenated Baucis is so exceedingly attractive that Jupiter himself falls a victim to her charms, and Philémon becomes jealous and quarrelsome. Baucis finally persuades Jupiter to promise her whatever she wishes, and having extorted the oath compels him to return to Olympus, leaving Philémon and herself to enjoy another lifetime of uninterrupted happiness. 'Philémon et Baucis' adheres strictly to the conventional lines of opéra comique, and has little beyond its tuneful grace and delicate orchestration to recommend it. Nevertheless it is a charming trifle, and has survived many of Gounod's more pretentious works. 'La Reine de Saba' (1862) and 'La Colombe' (1866) are now forgotten, but 'Mireille' (1864), one of the composer's most delightful works, still enjoys a high degree of popularity. The story, which is founded upon Mistral's Provençal romance 'Miréio,' is transparently simple. Vincent, a young basket-
In 1869 was produced 'Roméo et Juliette,' an opera which, in the estimation of the majority of Gounod's admirers, ranks next to 'Faust' in the catalogue of his works. The libretto, apart from one or two concessions to operatic convention, is a fair piece of work, and at any rate compares favourably with the parodies of Shakespeare which so often do duty for libretti. The opening scene shows the ball in Capulet's house and the first meeting of the lovers. The second act is the balcony scene. The third includes the marriage of Romeo and Juliet in Friar Laurence's cell, with the duels in the streets of Verona, the death of Mercutio, and the banishment of Romeo. The fourth act opens with the parting of the lovers in Juliet's chamber, and ends with Friar Laurence giving Juliet the potion. The last act, after an elaborate orchestral movement describing the sleep of Juliet, takes place in the tomb of the Capulets. MM. Barbier and Carré could not resist an opportunity of improving upon Shakespeare, and prolonged Romeo's death agony, in order to enable him to join in a final duet with Juliet.
The composer of the third act of 'Faust' could hardly fail to be attracted by 'Romeo and Juliet.' Nevertheless Gounod was too pronounced a mannerist to do justice to Shakespeare's immortal love-
'Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face,'
which conveys something more than an echo of the virginal innocence and complete self-
'Sleep dwell upon thine eyes.'
The duel scene is vigorous and effective, and the song allotted to Romeo's page—an impertinent insertion of the librettists—is intrinsically delightful. It is typical of the musician that he should put forth his full powers in the chamber duet, while he actually omits the potion scene altogether, which is the legitimate climax of the act. In the original version of the opera there was a commonplace cavatina allotted to Juliet at this point, set to words which had but a remote connection with Shakespeare's immortal lines, but it was so completely unworthy of the situation that it was usually omitted, and when the opera was revised for production at the Grand Opéra in 1888, Gounod thought it wiser to end the act with the Friar's discourse to Juliet, rather than attempt once more to do justice to a scene which he knew to be beyond his powers. The last act is perhaps the weakest part of the opera. MM. Barbier and Carré's version of Shakespeare's magnificent poetry is certainly not inspiring; but in any case it is difficult to believe that Gounod's suave talent could have done justice to the piteous tragedy of that terrible scene. Gounod's last three operas did not add to his reputation. 'Cinq Mars' (1877) made little impression when it was first produced, but it has recently been performed by the Carl Rosa Company in English with some success. The libretto is a poor one. It deals in conventional fashion with the conspiracy of Cinq Mars against Richelieu, but the incidents are not well arranged and the characters are the merest shadows. Much of the music is tuneful and attractive, though cast in a stiff and old-
Gounod's later works, as has already been pointed out, show a distinct falling off from the standard attained in 'Faust,' as regards form as well as in ideas. As he grew older he showed a stronger inclination to return to obsolete models. 'Le Tribut de Zamora' reproduces the type of opera which was popular in the days of Meyerbeer. It is cut up into airs and recitatives, and the accompaniment is sedulously subordinated to the voices. Without desiring to discredit the beauties of 'Mireille' or 'Roméo et Juliette,' one cannot help thinking that it would have been better for Gounod's reputation if he had written nothing for the stage after 'Faust.'
Very soon after its production Gounod's masterpiece began to exert a potent influence upon his contemporaries. One of the first French composers to admit its power was Ambroise Thomas (1811-
If we can dismiss all thoughts of Goethe and his 'Wilhelm Meister' from our minds, it will be possible to pronounce MM. Barbier and Carré's libretto a creditable piece of work. Mignon is a child who was stolen in infancy by a band of gipsies. She travels with them from town to town, dancing in the streets to the delight of the crowd. One day in a German city she refuses to dance, and Jarno the gipsy chief threatens her with his whip. Wilhelm Meister, who happens to be passing, saves her from a beating, and, pitying the half-
Thomas's 'Hamlet' (1868) is accepted as a masterpiece in Paris, where the absurdities of the libretto are either ignored or condoned. In England Shakespeare's tragedy is fortunately so familiar that such a ridiculous parody of it as MM. Barbier and Carré's libretto has not been found endurable. Much of Thomas's music is grandiose rather than grand, but in the less exacting scenes there is not a little of the plaintive charm of 'Mignon,' Ophelia's mad scene, which occupies most of the last act, is dramatically ludicrous, but the music is brilliant and captivating, and the ghost scene, earlier in the opera, is powerful and effective. Thomas employs several charming old Scandinavian tunes in the course of the work, which give a clever tinge of local colour to the score.
With Bizet (1838-
Jacques Offenbach (1819-
The career of César Franck (1822-
Léo Delibes (1836-
With Delibes may be classed Ferdinand Poise (1828-
Of living French composers Camille Saint Saëns is the unquestioned head, but he is known to fame principally by his successes in the concert-
Saint Saëns has treated this scene with uncommon variety and force, and indeed the whole opera is a masterly piece of writing. He uses guiding themes with more freedom than in 'Samson et Dalila,' but the general outline of 'Henry VIII.' is certainly not Wagnerian in type. The same may be said of 'Ascanio,' a work produced in 1890, with only partial success. 'Phryné,' which was given at the Opéra Comique in 1893, is on a much less elaborate scale. It is a musicianly little work, but in form follows the traditions of the older school of opéra comique with almost exaggerated fidelity. 'Les Barbares' (1901), a story of the Teutonic invasion of Gaul, did not enhance the composer's reputation. The plot is of a well-
'Hélène' (1904) is a more favourable example of Saint Saëns's many-
Saint Saëns's latest opera, 'L'Ancêtre' (1906), has not added materially to his reputation. It is a gloomy and, to tell the truth, somewhat conventional story of a Corsican vendetta. The instrumental part of the work is treated in masterly fashion, but the opera as a whole met with little favour at its production at Monte Carlo, and it has not been performed elsewhere.
Saint Saëns's theory of opera has been to combine song, declamation, and symphony in equal proportions, and thus, though he has written works which cannot fail to charm, he seems often to have fallen foul of both camps in the world of music. The Wagnerians object to the set form of his works, and the reactionaries condemn the prominence which he often gives to the declamatory and symphonic portions of his score. He is by nature a thorough eclectic, and his works possess a deep interest for musicians, but it may be doubted whether, in opera at any rate, a more masterful personality is not necessary to produce work of really permanent value.
To Ernest Reyer success came late. The beauties of his early works, 'Érostrate' (1852) and 'La Statue' (1861), were well known to musicians; but not until the production of 'Sigurd' in 1884 did he gain the ear of the public. Sigurd is the same person as Siegfried, and the plot of Reyer's opera is drawn from the same source as that of 'Götterdämmerung.' Hilda, the youthful sister of Gunther, the king of the Burgundians, loves the hero Sigurd, and at the instigation of her nurse gives him a magic potion, which brings him to her feet. Sigurd, Gunther, and Hagen then swear fealty to each other and start for Iceland, where Brunehild lies asleep upon a lofty rock, surrounded by a circle of fire. There Sigurd, to earn the hand of Hilda, passes through the flames and wins Brunehild for Gunther. His face is closely hidden by his visor, and Brunehild in all innocence accepts Gunther as her saviour, and gives herself to him. The secret is afterwards disclosed by Hilda in a fit of jealous rage, whereupon Brunehild releases Sigurd from the enchantment of the potion. He recognises her as the bride ordained for him by the gods, but before he can taste his new-
Reyer and Saint Saëns both show traces of the influence of Wagner, but though guiding themes are often employed with excellent effect in their works, the general outlines of their operas remain very much in accordance with the form handed down by Meyerbeer. Massenet, on the other hand, has drunk more deeply at the Bayreuth fountain. His early comic operas, 'La Grand' Tante' (1867) and 'Don César de Bazan' (1872) are purely French in inspiration, and even 'Le Roi de Lahore' (1877), his first great success, does not show any very important traces of German influence. Its success was largely due to the brilliant spectacle of the Indian Paradise in the third act. The score is rich in sensuous melody of the type which we associate principally with the name of Gounod, and the subtle beauties of the orchestration bear witness to the hand of a master.
In 'Hérodiade' (1881) the influence of Wagner becomes more noticeable, though it hardly amounts to more than an occasional trifling with guiding themes. The libretto is a version of the Biblical story of St. John the Baptist, considerably doctored to suit Parisian taste. When 'Hérodiade' was performed in London in 1904, under the title of 'Salome,' the names of some of the characters were altered and the scene of the story was transferred to Ethiopia, in order to satisfy the conscientious scruples of the Lord Chamberlain. Thus according to the newest version of Massenet's opera 'Jean' is a mysterious prophet—presumably a species of Mahdi—who makes his appearance at the court of Moriame, King of Ethiopia. He denounces the sins of Queen Hesatoade in no measured terms, but the latter cannot induce her husband to avenge her wrongs, since Moriame dare not venture for political reasons to proceed to extreme measures against so popular a character as Jean. Jean has an ardent disciple in Salome, a young lady whose position in Ethiopian society is not very clearly defined by the librettist, though in the end she turns out to be Hesatoade's long-
'Manon,' which was first performed in 1884, shows perhaps no advance in the matter of form upon 'Hérodiade,' but the subject of the opera is so admirably suited to Massenet's tender and delicate talent that it remains one of his most completely successful works. The Abbé Prévost's famous romance had already been treated operatically by Auber, but his 'Manon Lescaut' was never really a success, and had been laid upon the shelf many years before Massenet took the story in hand.
The action of Massenet's opera begins in the courtyard of an inn at Amiens, where the Chevalier des Grieux happens to fall in with Manon Lescaut, who is being sent to a convent under the charge of her brother, a bibulous guardsman. Manon does not at all like the prospect of convent life, and eagerly agrees to Des Grieux's proposal to elope with him to Paris. The next act shows them in an apartment in Paris. Des Grieux has tried in vain to obtain his father's consent to his marriage, and the capricious Manon, finding that the modest style of their ménage hardly agrees with her ideas of comfort, listens to the advances made to her by a nobleman named Brétigny, and ends by conniving at a scheme, planned by the elder Des Grieux, for carrying off his son from his questionable surroundings. In the next act Manon is the mistress of Brétigny, feted and admired by all. During an entertainment at Cours-
Massenet's music is a happy combination of Wagner's elaborate system of guiding themes with the sensuous beauty of which he himself possesses the secret. As regards the plan of 'Esclarmonde' his indebtedness to Wagner was so patent, that Parisian critics christened him 'Mlle. Wagner,' but nevertheless he succeeded in preserving his own individuality distinct from German influence. No one could mistake 'Esclarmonde' for the work of a German; in melodic structure and orchestral colouring it is French to the core.
'Werther' was written in 1886, though not actually produced until 1892, when it was given for the first time at Vienna. The plot of Goethe's famous novel is a rather slight foundation for a libretto, but the authors did their work neatly and successfully. In the first act Werther sees Charlotte cutting bread and butter for her little brothers and sisters, and falls in love with her. In the second, Charlotte, now married to Albert, finding that she cannot forget Werther and his passion, sends him from her side. He departs in despair, meditating suicide. In the last act Charlotte is still brooding over the forbidden love, and will not be comforted by the artless prattle of her sister Sophie. Werther suddenly returns, and after a passionate and tearful scene, extorts from Charlotte the confession that she loves him. He then borrows Albert's pistols, and shoots himself in his lodgings, where Charlotte finds him, and he breathes his last sigh in her arms. Though in tone and sentiment more akin to 'Manon,' in form 'Werther' resembles 'Esclarmonde.' It is constructed upon a basis of guiding themes, which are often employed with consummate skill. The uniform melancholy of the story makes the music slightly monotonous, and though the score cannot fail to delight musicians, it has hardly colour or variety enough to be generally popular. 'Le Portrait de Manon,' a delicate little sketch in one act, and 'Thaïs,' a clever setting of Anatole France's beautiful romance, both produced in 1894, will not be likely to add much to Massenet's reputation. 'La Navarraise,' produced during the same year in London, was apparently an attempt to imitate the melodramatic extravagance of Mascagni. The action takes place under the walls of Bilbao during the Carlist war. Anita loves Araquil, a Spanish soldier, but his father will not permit the marriage because of her poverty. Seeing that a reward is offered for the head of the Carlist general, Anita goes forth like a second Judith, trusting to her charms to win admittance to the hostile camp. She wins her reward, but Araquil, who is brought in from a battle mortally wounded, knowing the price at which it was won, thrusts her from him, and she sinks a gibbering maniac upon his corpse. There is little in Massenet's score but firing of cannons and beating of drums. The musical interest centres in a charming duet in the opening scene, and a delicious instrumental nocturne. The action of the piece is breathless and vivid, and the music scarcely pretends to do more than furnish a suitable accompaniment to it. Of late years Massenet has confined himself principally to works of slight calibre, which have been on the whole more successful than many of his earlier and more ambitious efforts. 'Sapho' (1897), an operatic version of Daudet's famous novel, and 'Cendrillon' (1899), a charming fantasia on the old theme of Cinderella, both succeeded in hitting Parisian taste. No less fortunate was 'Grisélidis' (1901), a quasi-
Mention must be made, for the sake of completeness, of the performance at Nice in 1903 of Massenet's thirty—year—old oratorio, 'Marie Magdeleine,' in the guise of a 'drame lyrique.' French taste, it need hardly be said, is very different from English with regard to what should and should not be placed upon the stage, but once granted the permissibility of making Jesus Christ the protagonist of an opera, there is comparatively little in 'Marie Magdeleine' to offend religious susceptibilities. The work is divided into four scenes: a palm-
In 'Chérubin' (1905) Massenet returned to his more familiar manner. The story pursues the adventures of Beaumarchais's too fascinating page after his disappearance from the scene of 'Le Mariage de Figaro.' What these adventures are it is needless to detail, save that they embrace a good deal of duelling and even more love-
Massenet's latest work, 'Thérèse' (1907), is a return to the breathless, palpitating style of 'La Navarraise.' It is a story of the revolution, high-
Alfred Bruneau is a composer whose works have excited perhaps more discussion than those of any living French composer. By critics who pretend to advanced views he has been greeted as the rightful successor of Wagner, while the conservative party in music have not hesitated to stigmatise him as a wearisome impostor. 'Kérim' (1887), his first work, passed almost unnoticed. 'Le Rêve,' an adaptation of Zola's novel, was produced in 1891 at the Opéra Comique, and in the same year was performed in London. The scene is laid in a French cathedral city. The period is that of the present day.
Angélique, the adopted child of a couple of old embroiderers, is a dreamer of dreams. All day she pores over the lives of the saints until the legends of their miracles and martyrdoms become living realities to her mind, and she hears their voices speaking to her in the silence of her chamber. She falls in love with a man who is at work upon the stained glass of the Cathedral windows. This turns out to be the son of the Bishop. The course of their love does not run smooth. The Bishop, in spite of the protestations of his son, refuses his consent to their marriage. Angélique pines away, and is lying at the point of death when the Bishop relents, and with a kiss of reconciliation restores her to life. She is married to her lover, but in the porch of the Cathedral dies from excess of happiness. The entire work is rigorously constructed upon Wagner's system of representative themes. Each act runs its course uninterruptedly without anything approaching a set piece. Two voices are rarely heard together, and then only in unison. So far Bruneau faithfully follows the system of Wagner. Where he differs from his master is in the result of his efforts; he has nothing of Wagner's feeling for melodic beauty, nothing of his mastery of orchestral resource, and very little of his musical skill. The melodies in 'Le Rêve'—save for an old French chanson, which is the gem of the work—are for the most part arid and inexpressive. Bruneau handles the orchestra like an amateur, and his attempts at polyphony are merely ridiculous. Yet in spite of all this, the vocal portions of the work follow the inflections of the human voice so faithfully as to convey a feeling of sincerity. Ugly and monotonous as much of 'Le Rêve' is, the music is alive. In its strange language it speaks with the accent of truth. Here at any rate are none of the worn-
In 'L'Attaque du Moulin' (1893), another adaptation of Zola, Bruneau set himself a very different task. The contrast between the placid Cathedral close and the bloody terrors of the Franco-
'L'Attaque du Moulin' was received with more general favour than 'Le Rêve.' In it Bruneau shows an inclination to relax the stern principles of his former creed. The action is often interrupted by solos and duets of a type which approaches the conventional, though for the most part the opera follows the Wagnerian system. The result of this mixture of styles is unsatisfactory. 'L'Attaque du Moulin' has not the austere sincerity of 'Le Rêve,' and the attempts to bid for popular favour are not nearly popular enough to catch the general ear. Bruneau has little melodic inspiration, and when he tries to be tuneful he generally ends in being merely commonplace. The orchestral part of the opera, too, is far less satisfactory than in 'Le Rêve.' There, as has already been pointed out, the monotony and lack of colour were to a certain extent in keeping with the character of the work, but in 'L'Attaque du Moulin,' where all should be colour and variety, the dull and featureless orchestration is a serious blot. 'Messidor' (1897) and 'L'Ouragan' (1901) had very much the same reception as the composer's earlier operas. The compact little phalanx of his admirers greeted them with enthusiasm, but the general public remained cold. 'Messidor,' written to a prose libretto by Zola, is a curious mixture of socialism and symbolism. The foundation of the plot is a legend of the gold-
Bruneau's later works can hardly be said to have fulfilled the promise of 'Le Rêve,' but they unquestionably show a fuller command of the resources of his art. He is a singular and striking figure in the world of modern music, and it is impossible to believe that he has spoken his last word as yet. His career will be watched with interest by all who are interested in the development of opera.
Of the younger men the most prominent are Vincent d'Indy, Gustave Charpentier, and Claude Debussy. Vincent d'Indy's 'Fervaal' was produced at Brussels in 1897 and was given in Paris shortly afterwards. It is a story of the Cevennes in heroic times, somewhat in the Wagnerian manner, and the music is defiantly Wagnerian from first to last Clever as 'Fervaal' unquestionably is, it is valuable less as a work of art than as an indication of the real bent of the composer's talent. The dramatic parts of the opera suggest nothing but a brilliant exercise in the Wagnerian style, but in the lyrica scenes, such as the last act in its entirety, there are evidences of an individuality of conspicuous power and originality. 'L'Étranger' (1903) hardly bore out the promise of 'Fervaal,' in spite of much clever musicianship. The plot is an adaptation of the legend of the Flying Dutchman, and the unmitigated gloom of the work prevented it from winning the degree of favour to which its many merits entitled it. Gustave Charpentier's 'Louise,' produced in 1900, hit the taste of the Parisian public immediately and decisively. It tells the story of the loves of Louise, a Montmartre work-
The fame of Claude Debussy is a plant of recent growth, and dates, so far as the general public is concerned, from the production of his 'Pelléas et Mélisande' in 1902, though for some years before he had been the idol of an intimate circle of adorers. 'Pelléas et Mélisande' is founded upon Maeterlinck's play of that name, the action of which it follows closely, but not closely enough, it seems, to please the poet, who publicly dissociated himself from the production of Debussy's opera and, metaphorically speaking, cursed it root and branch. Golaud, the son of King Arkel, wandering in the wood finds the damsel Mélisande sitting by a fountain. He falls in love with her and carries her back to the castle as his wife. At the castle dwells also Pelléas, Golaud's brother, whose growing love for Mélisande is traced through a succession of interviews. In the end, Golaud kills the lovers after a striking scene in which, as he stands beneath the window of the room in which Pelléas and Mélisande have secretly met, he is told what is passing within by a child whom he holds in his arms. The story is of course merely that of Paolo and Francesca retold, but placed in very different surroundings and accompanied by music that certainly could never have been written by an Italian, of Dante's or any other time.
Debussy has aimed at creating a musical equivalent for the Maeterlinck 'atmosphere,' The score of 'Pelléas et Mélisande' is a pure piece of musical impressionism, an experiment in musical pioneering the value of which it is difficult to judge offhand. He has wilfully abjured melody of any accepted kind and harmony conforming to any established tradition. His music moves in a world of its own, a dream-
There are many other living French composers who, if not destined to revolutionise the world of opera, have already done admirable work, and may yet win a more than local reputation. Charles Marie Widor has recently in 'Les Pêcheurs de Saint Jean' (1905) given a worthy success to his twenty-
André Messager's name is chiefly associated in England with work of a lighter character, but it must not be forgotten that he is the composer of two of the most charming opéras comiques of modern times, 'La Basoche' (1890) and 'Madame Chrysanthème' (1893).
This is perhaps the most convenient place to refer to the remarkable success recently achieved by the Flemish composer Jan Blockx, whose 'Herbergprinses,' originally produced at Antwerp in 1896, has been given in French as 'Princesse d'Auberge' in Brussels and many French towns. The heroine is a kind of Flemish Carmen, a wicked siren named Rita, who seduces the poet Merlyn from his bride, and after dragging him to the depths of infamy and despair, dies in the end by his hand. The music, though not without a touch of coarseness, overflows with life and energy, and one scene in particular, that of a Flemish Kermesse, is masterly in its judicious and convincing use of local colour. Jan Blockx's later works, 'Thyl Uylenspiegel' (1900), 'De Bruid van der Zee' (1901) and 'De Kapelle' (1903) do not appear to have met with equal success. Another Belgian composer, Paul Gilson, has of late won more than local fame by his 'Princesse Rayon de Soleil,' produced at Brussels in 1905.
In modern times the stream of opéra comique has divided into two channels. The first, as we have seen, under the guidance of such men as Bizet, Delibes, and Massenet, has approached so near to the confines of grand opera, that it is often difficult to draw the line between the two genres The second, under the influence of Offenbach, Hervé, and Lecocq, has shrunk into opéra bouffe, a peculiarly Parisian product, which, though now for some reason under a cloud, has added sensibly to the gaiety of nations during the past thirty years. The productions of this school, though scarcely coming within the scope of the present work, are by no means to be despised from the merely musical point of view, and though the recent deaths of Audran, Planquette and other acknowledged masters of the genre have left serious gaps in the ranks of comic opera writers, there seems to be no valid reason for despairing of the future of so highly civilised and entertaining a form of musical art.
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