Muette de Portici, La (‘The Mute Girl of Portici’)
- Herbert Schneider
(‘The Mute Girl of Portici’)
Grand opéra in five acts by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber to a libretto by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne; Paris, Opéra, 29 February 1828.
The first version of the libretto, in three acts, was written by Delavigne in 1825, on a subject of great interest at the time. Entitled Masaniello, ou la Muette de Portici, it was submitted to the comité de lecture and the censors, who demanded changes. The second version was reworked by Scribe, but was not completed. In this version Scribe not only changed the conception to meet the demands of the censors, suppressing explicitly revolutionary material, but also created a new type of libretto, for a grand opéra in five acts. He added a first act introducing the traditional pair of lovers, which inevitably affected the following acts, but this version differed considerably from the final one. The original revolutionary content, and the attempt to provide logical motivation for the actions of the main characters and chorus, gave rise to inconsistencies which could not be corrected in the final five-act version. The introduction of the mute girl Fenella, who participates only in pantomime – an idea indebted to Walter Scott’s ...