“NEVER YET HAS ANYONE PRODUCED SO ACCURATE A MUSICAL DESCRIPTION OF LA MANIFESTATION PHYSIQUE DES TENDRESSES HUMAINES”: ESCLARMONDE, FIRST EDITION, ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY MASSENET WITH MUSIC
MASSENET, J[ules]. Esclarmonde: Opéra Romanesque en quatre actes et huit tableaux. Paris: G. Hartmann, . Quarto, contemporary half red straight-grain morocco. $3800.
First edition, association copy of the piano-vocal score, inscribed by Massenet to the great French bass Joseph Tagliafico “a l’ami Tagliafico, souvenir de son bien affectionne, J. Massenet,” with a musical quotation from the prologue (“O divine Esclarmonde…”), dated Paris, October 1889. With lovely art nouveau color illustrations, including vignette title page, by E. Grasset.
“On 15 May 1889, Esclarmonde opened at the Opéra-Comique in the Place du Chatelet with Sibyl Sanderson in the title role. Billed as opéra romanesque, it did quite well, with ninety-one performances by the end of 1889 and ten more the following year, before it closed its run” (Irvine, 164). In Esclarmonde, Massenet, the predominant French opera composer of his generation, departs from his characteristic elegance in favor of a more Wagnerian intensity. The opera prompted one contemporary critic to write: “never yet, I believe, has anyone produced so accurate and detailed a musical description of la manifestation physique des tendresses humaines” (Irvine, 166). With front wrapper bound in.
Front inner paper hinge splitting, contemporary binding sound and attractive. An extremely good association copy.