Book chapter

"Den Propheten der neuen Welt" : Is Meyerbeer’s style cinematic?

Published in:
  • Bild und Bewegung im Musiktheater: Interdisziplinäre Studien im Umfeld der Grand opéra = Image and Movement in Music Theatre: Interdisciplinary Studies around Grand Opéra / Brotbeck, Roman ; Moeckli, Laura ; Schaffer, Anette ; Schroedter, Stephani ; Allenbach, Daniel. - Argus. - 2018, p. 119-131
English Giacomo Meyerbeer is famous for his contribution to opera, developing the style of grand opéra, with Robert le diable (1831), Les Huguenots (1836), Le Prophète (1849) and L’Africaine (1865). The modernity of his musical and dramatic methods of representation led some researchers to assume that Meyerbeer’s writing is partly cinematic. It is the validity of this assumption that I will question in this paper, examining a few examples of cinematic analysis of Meyerbeer’s operas in critical literature. The most frequent association of Meyerbeer and film is linked to the concept of editing. Therefore I will discuss the pertinence of using terms like “cross- cutting”, “dissolve”, “cut” or “shot” when analysing Meyerbeer’s operas. I will argue that they are not well suited to describe the musical heterogeneity characteristic of Meyerbeer’s style. Hence I will suggest to resort instead to narratological concepts as focalisation. Moreover a series of critics call one of the most dramatic effects in Meyerbeer’s music “suspense effect” after cinematic thrillers, which will be another point of my study. The presence of pantomimes in Meyerbeer’s operas has been considered as cinematic, which is linked to a partial view of what film music is. The recurrent association of Meyerbeer and cinema in critical literature is for sure due to his care for optic effects and mise en scène but in the end it does not seem to be a pertinent association regarding the understanding of his works even if a long historiographical tradition exists.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département de musicologie
  • English
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  • RERO DOC 330479
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