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date: 14 December 2019

Attaque du moulin, L’ (‘The Attack on the Mill’)locked

  • Richard Langham Smith

Extract

(‘The Attack on the Mill’)

Drame lyrique in four acts by Alfred Bruneau to a libretto by Louis Gallet after Emile Zola ; Paris, Opéra’Comique (Salle Favart), 23 November 1893.

The opera concerns the plight of a miller’s family when war breaks out. The daughter, Françoise (soprano), has fallen in love with a stranger, Dominique (tenor). After scenes stressing the family’s love of their work and announcing the marriage of the pair, the Town Crier (bass) warns of war. Marcelline (mezzosoprano), wife of the miller Merlier (baritone), fears that it can bring only destruction.

As hostilities begin, Bruneau responds with realistic clarion calls and military marches. Françoise is appalled by the carnage; emphasis on realist detail to elicit a moral reaction is characteristic of the opera. The enemy captain appears, accusing Merlier and Dominique of complicity. Merlier will be shot at dawn.

In Act 3 as Marcelline engages a look’out in conversation Françoise enters stealthily and kills him. When the body is discovered Dominique is blamed. Françoise confesses but her father tries to persuade the captain to punish him instead....

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