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date: 20 August 2019

Olagnier [née Joly], Margueritelocked

  • Lucie Middlemiss

Extract

(b 1844; d Paris, Sept 12, 1906). French composer, novelist, poet and singer. She began her musical life as a singer at the Théâtre des Variétées in Paris, leaving to travel to Egypt with her husband Eugène Olagnier. Possibly while abroad she wrote both words and music of an exotic opera in four acts, Le Saïs, which was staged at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris on 18 December 1881. Later in life she directed her own company, the Théâtre de l'Oratorio, in weekly performances of 18th- and 19th-century oratorios. Two more operas, Le Persan and Lilipa, were never performed, and a novel remains unpublished. Olagnier also wrote a number of songs.

Le Saïs is, in form and genre, a hybrid of late 19th-century operetta and grand opéra, comprising short, strophic numbers and longer, complex forms. The work also draws on traditions of French exotic opera composition: in the Scène du Hachich (1.v), as the cast sit at the foot of a pyramid drinking hashish, chant-like vocal lines, repetitive rhythms and drones conjure an image of the orient. Critics of the time saw ...

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