Opera Scotland

Benjamin Godard Suggest updates

Benjamin Louis Paul Godard.

Born Paris, 18 August 1849.

Died Cannes, 10 January 1895.

French composer.

Benjamin Godard studied at the Paris Conservatoire and played the viola. He had a successful career as a composer ofmusic for salon and symphonic forces. Recordings of his violin concertos show an easy talent for pleasant melodic invention, if without any great depth. He taught at the Conservatoire and was awarded the Légion d'Honneur.

His operatic work came late and treated a range of highly ambitious subjects. Some were quite unusual - the Spanish Golden Age drama, Calderén's The Mayor of Zalamèa is not a common subject (and its subtitle The Best Garrotting Ever Done gives an idea of its seriousness). His only operatic success was his last piece, a comic opera in a lighter style. But La vivandière was not quite finished at his death, and he could not benefit from its success in the orchestration completed by Paul Vidal. The only piece of his operatic music that remains familiar today is the Berceuse from Jocelyn, largely due to a famous recording by Jussi Bjoerling.

Operas performed in Scotland are shown in bold:

1   Les bijoux de Jeanette (Paris 1878) ()

2   Les Guelfes (comp 1880-82; prod Rouen 1902) (Gallet)

3   Pedro de Zalamea (Antwerp 1888) (Détroyat & Silvestre)

4   Jocelyn (Brussels 1888) (Capoul & Silvestre)

5   Dante (Paris 1890) (Blau)

6   Jeanne d’Arc  (Paris 1891) (Fabre)

7   La vivandière (Brussels 1895) (Cain)

Principal source: New Grove Dictionary of Opera.

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