Saint-Saens / Yamada / Dowsley - Dejanire | RECORD STORE DAY
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'It will be a strange score: people will either not like it at all, or will like it enormously', prophesied Camille Saint-Saens a few days before the premiere of Dejanire. The opera, first performed in Monte Carlo on 14 March 1911, is based on incidental music written in 1898 for the Beziers Arena. Fascinated by the subject, the composer soon wanted to give it a second, more ambitious life. He therefore conceived a mythological epic that inspired 'powerfully evocative music', according to Gabriel Faure, who was struck by the impact of the choral writing. Yet the love drama that rends the heroine's heart engenders wildly romantic duets and culminates in the public immolation of Hercules, set ablaze by the poisoned tunic offered to him by the fallen queen. This new Dejanire received high praise from the critics, who flocked to Monaco to see it. But the modernist path that French opera was taking at the time did not allow the work to survive the upheavals of the First World War. It would have been a shame to prolong this unjustified ostracism any longer.