Pénélope in the Press, 1913: The Early Critical Reception of Gabriel Fauré's Only Opera
Houghton, Jenny Marie
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Gabriel Fauré's single full-scale opera, Pénélope, has been virtually forgotten since it premiered in 1913. This thesis provides the first detailed account of Pénélope's critical reception during the year of its premiere. Given that the opera was received enthusiastically by the press, many Fauré scholars have blamed the opera's demise on poor timing. Close examination of the 1913 reviews reveals, however, a deep-seeded bias on the part of the press. By the time Pénélope premiered, Fauré was an influential and beloved member of the French musical community. Thus, we find that the reviews are as much a tribute to his personal character as they are an assessment of his opera. By properly contextualizing the reviews, we gain a clearer understanding of Pénélope's true merits and weaknesses, which may help guide a future for the work in the twenty-first century.