Jules Massenet's Musical Redemption of the Biblical Femme Fatale

Tuesday, April 18

Time: 8 p.m. — 9:30 p.m.

Location: Sears Recital Hall, Jesse Philips Humanities Center

Tags:  Performance, Recital, Lecture, Free

Cost:  Free

When examining his works in total, it is obvious that Jules Massenet had a particular affinity for women who embraced their sensuality. In mediating the heroines of the three works examined in this lecture-recital - Marie-Magdeleine, Éve, and Hérodiade - through a spiritual lens, Massenet made the consumption of their stories both more palatable and more titillating for a post-Victorian audience. By first endowing his religious heroines with exotic musical figures and then stripping them of their exoticism as they repent their sins, Massenet musically redeems his femme fatales and transforms them into the bourgeois feminine ideal, still sensual, but more “appropriate” in terms of the moral, social and musical expectations of the time.

To appreciate Massenet’s methods, one must consider these works in their cultural context through the phenomenon of the femme fatale in fin de siècle France, the new societal interest in spiritual realism, and the rise of the feminist movement.

Performers include Andrea Chenoweth Wells, soprano and Steven Variames on piano, with Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzosoprano.

Contact Information:

Name:  Department of Music
Website:  go.udayton.edu/music
Phone:  937-229-3936