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date: 10 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Édouard Lalo’s opera Le Roi d’Ys was one of the earliest manifestations of French musical regionalism to find success on a major Parisian stage. Subtitled légende bretonne, Lalo’s work was set in medieval Brittany, using Breton folk melodies and a conflation of Christian and Celtic legends, intentionally sidestepping the conformist portfolio of fairy tales and grand-operatic French history at the Opéra and the Opéra Comique. Concordant with goals of contemporary regionalist associations such as the Société Celtique and the Félibres promoting the decentralization of French culture, Le Roi d’Ys represents an intentional and nostalgic re-creation of an ancient lineage, geographically and artistically independent from the culture of Paris. Most intriguing are musical links between Regionalist publications of early Provençal noëls and Lalo’s references to medieval ceremonies and rituals in Le Roi d’Ys. As such, the opera is much more than its detractors’ accusations that it was derivative, simply an echo of wagnérisme. Le Roi d’Ys set an important precedent for later regionalist works by Chausson, Ropartz, Widor and others, and was significant to the transformation of musico-dramatic repertory in fin-de-siècle France.

Keywords: Éduard Lalo, Le Roi d’Ys, regionalism, nationalism

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