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Arrieu, Claude (opera)locked

  • Richard Langham Smith

(b Paris, Nov 30, 1903; d ?Paris, March 7, 1990). French composer. She studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where her teachers included Roger-Ducasse and Dukas, taking a premier prix for composition in 1932. In 1935 she began working for French Radio, where she remained until 1947 when she devoted herself to composition. A prolific composer, she retained in her music the ease of flow and elegance of structure that typified Parisian neo-classicism, while avoiding the often concomitant frivolity. Noé is remarkable for its extensive use of Sprechgesang, while Cadet Roussel returns to the alternating speech and song of the opéra comique. Balthazar is a commedia dell’arte story, and Un clavier pour un autre concerns a party of classical musicians forced to spend the night in the customs hall of a railway station. A doctor arrives and ruins the voice of one of the singers, but teaches a secretary to sing; she swaps her typewriter keyboard for that of a piano. Her several radio productions must place Arrieu as one of the most important contributors to the concept of radio opera, although La cabine téléphonique was later transferred to the stage (Tours, 5 March 1977).


Noé, 1931–4 (imagerie musicale, 3, A. Obey), Strasbourg, Opéra, 29 Jan 1950

Cadet Roussel, 1938–9 (ob, 5, A. de La Tourrasse after J. Limozin), Marseilles, Opéra, 2 Oct 1953

La Coquille à planètes (opéra radiophonique, P. Schaeffer), RTF, 1944

Les deux rendez-vous, 1948 (oc, 1, P. Bertin, after G. de Nerval), RTF, 22 June 1951

Le chapeau à musique (opéra enfantine, 2, Tourrasse and P. Dumaine), RTF, 1953

La princesse de Babylone, 1953–5 (ob, 3, P. Dominique, after Voltaire), Reims, Opéra, 3 March 1960

La cabine téléphonique (ob, 1, M. Vaucaire), RTF, 15 March 1959

Cymbeline, 1958–63 (2, J. Tournier and M. Jacquemont, after W. Shakespeare), ORFT, 31 March 1974

Balthazar ou Le mort-vivant, 1966 (ob, 1, Dominique), unperf.

Un clavier pour un autre (ob, 1, J. Tardieu), Avignon, Opéra, 3 April 1971

Barbarine, 1972 (3, after A. de Musset), inc.

Les amours de Don Perlimpin et Belise en son jardin (imagerie lyrique, 4 tableaux, after F. García Lorca), Tours, Grand, 1 March 1980


  • P. Landormy: La musique française après Debussy (Paris, 1943)
  • F. Masset: ‘Le théâtre lyrique de Claude Arrieu’, Le théâtre lyrique français 1945–1988, ed. D. Pistone (Paris, 1987), 193–202