Giacomo Meyerbeer, one of the most important and influential opera composers of the nineteenth century, enjoyed a fame during his lifetime unrivalled by any of his contemporaries. This eleven volume set provides in one collection all the operatic texts set by Meyerbeer in his career. The texts are offered in the most complete versions ever made available. Each libretto is translated into modern English by Richard Arsenty; and each work is introduced by Robert Letellier. In this comprehensive edition of Meyerbeer's libretti, the original text and its translation are placed on facing pages for ease of use. The sixth volume presents Les Huguets (1836), Meyerbeer's most popular opera, t only in France, but throughout the world during the 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1936 it had been performed 1126 times at the Paris Opera alone. The stirring scenario set during the French Wars of Religion conjures up a rich and complex Renaissance world and the tragedy of religious conflict, with the whole of society unraveling in hatred, murder and chaos. The only light is spiritual illumination which chooses self-sacrifice and love above hatred and vengeance-even to the point of death. Resolution comes in true enlightenment of mind and heart. George Sand, indeed, called this opera an evangel of love . The plot follows an inexorable course, intensified in terms of broadness, light, time, speed and compression, as leisured life, freedom of mind and action, are funneled into a vortex of constriction: action becomes narrower, darker, faster and inescapable in the realization of a fatal course of tragic events. Eventually the only authentic behaviour left is the freedom to die for the truth. In Les Huguets Meyerbeer showed himself the master of narrative pacing and symbolic color. He emerges as the historical velist of dramatic music, using sophisticated orchestral and choral mixtures, strong melody, splendid vocalism, and powerful characterization to unfold both relaxed and vibrant narration. The apprehension of historical detail, the bold confrontation of ideological and religious themes of profound importance to human self-determination and liberty, established Meyerbeer as a great composer of serious opera. The engagement of poet and composer transcended historical limitations to create a masterpiece of Romantic tragedy. For Verdi, Les Huguets was true theater, and acts 2 and 4 especially, stupendo (magnificent).
Richard Arsenty, a native of the U.S. midwest, received degrees from the University of Illinois in Biology Education and Library Science. After teaching for seven years at the high school, college and university levels, he took advantage of a unique opportunity and went to work as a libretto translator for MRF Records in New Jersey. Eight years later he decided to return to academia, accepting a position as Science Reference Librarian at Purchase College near New York City. At the end of 2002, after sixteen years of service to the college, he took an early retirement and returned to Illinois where his family is located. Richard has translated more than 160 libretti for organizations such as Opera Orchestra of New York, The New York City Opera, The Waterloo Festival, Hungaraton Records, Orfeo Records and Opera Rara. His translations include all of Meyerbeer's operas (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2004), Nerone (Boito), Das Liebesverbot (Wagner), La Juive (Halevy), Marino Faliero (Donizetti), Salammbo (Reyer), Jerusalem (Verdi), Crispino e la Comare (Ricci) and many others. Robert Ignatius Letellier was born in Natal, and educated in Grahamstown, Cambridge, Salzburg, Rome and Jerusalem. He is a member of Trinity College (Cambridge), the Salzburg Centre for Research in the Early English Novel (University of Salzburg), the Maryvale Institute (Birmingham), and the Institute for Continuing Education at Madingley Hall (Cambridge). His publications include books and articles on the late-seventeenth-, eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century novel (particularly the Gothic Novel and Sir Walter Scott), the Bible, and European culture, with emphasis on the Romantic opera and ballet. He has specialized in the work of Giacomo Meyerbeer (a four-volume English edition of his diaries, a collection of critical and biographical studies, a guide to research, and two readings of the operas, as well as compiling and introducing editions of the complete libretti and non-operatic texts). He has also written on the ballets of Ludwig Minkus.