Opera Scotland

Navarraise La navarraise; The Girl from Navarre

Music

Jules Massenet (born Montaud, St Etienne, 12 May 1842; died Paris, 13 August 1912.

Text

Jules Claretie and Henri Cain.

Source

Story La cigarette (1890) by Jules Claretie.

 

Premières

First Performance: London (Covent Garden), 20 June 1894.

First Performance in UK: As above.

First Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Royal Lyceum Theatre), 15 September 1894.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

La navarraise was an attempt by Massenet to follow the trend established by Cavalleria Rusticana for highly dramatic verismo works with rapidly told stories, and is even shorter, with its two acts lasting barely 45 minutes in total - Massenet manages to cram a great deal of effective music into this economical framework. The opera is set during a very recent episode in Spanish history - barely twenty years before the composition of the opera. The Carlist wars took place in the Basque territory in 1874, and the action of La navarraise is located in Bilbao. The Carlist rebels, supporters of the heir to the throne, are in the ascendant, thanks to the qualities of their leader Zuccaraga.

The première was given at Covent Garden with a stellar cast of French singers including Emma Calvé (Anita), Albert Alvarez (Araquil), Charles Gilibert (Garrido) and Pol Plançon (Remigio), and was taken on its British tour less than three months later.

 

Characters

Anita, a girl from Navarre (soprano)

Araquil, a sergeant in the Biscayan regiment (tenor)

Garrido, a general (baritone)

Remigio, Araquil's father (bass)

Bustamente, a sergeant (baritone)

Ramon, a captain (tenor)

 

Plot Summary

Anita and Araquil are in love, but she is a foreigner, her relations have all been killed, and she does not have a dowry, so his wealthy father is opposed to their marriage. He demands that she provide a sum which he knows to be well beyond her capabilities. The Biscayan regiment are on the Royalist side, and the Carlist rebels led by Zuccaraga. General Garrido believes that the Carlist cause would collapse without Zuccaraga. A large reward would go to anyone who managed to kill him. Anita overhears this and, forming a plan for obtaining her dowry money she agrees terms with Garrido for carrying out a secret assassination, though the general does not take her scheme entirely seriously. Ramon tells Araquil that Anita has been seen sneaking through to enemy lines. She has also been heard asking to be taken to Zuccaraga. They suspect that she is either a spy or the Carlist leader's lover. Araquil, furiously jealous, follows her.

As dawn breaks, Anita returns, and asks the general for her fee. Garrido, convinced by her story, promises secrecy and gives her the agreed sum. Araquil is now carried in, having been wounded in a skirmish with the Carlists. He is convinced that the money must have come from Anita selling herself to Zuccaraga. As news arrives of the murder he dies. Anita goes mad.

The Cast

Anita
 a girl from Navarre
Araquil
 a sergeant
Bustamente
 a sergeant
Garrido
 a general
Ramon
 a captain
Remigio
 Araquil's father

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