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Grisélidislocked

  • Rodney Milnes

Extract

Conte lyrique in a prologue and three acts by Jules Massenet to a libretto by Armand Sylvestre and Eugène Morand after their own dramatization of the medieval French tale (1891, Comédie-Française); Paris, Opéra-Comique (Salle Favart), 20 November 1901.

The legend of ‘patient Grissil’, familiar from Boccaccio, Chaucer and Perrault, has been set by more than 25 composers, among them Vivaldi, Piccinni and Scarlatti. The subject matter is hardly calculated to appeal to 20th-century audiences describing as it does a husband’s cruel, cynical test of his wife’s constancy and – even worse – her submissive acceptance of his behaviour. Massenet and his librettists make the action more readily acceptable by introducing an extra character, the Devil, to tempt Grisélidis in place of her disguised husband, and by making this a comic role....

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