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More info on Sappho


Charles Gounod


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Sappho Synopsis


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About the opera Sappho

Sapho is a 3-act opera by Charles Gounod to a libretto by Émile Augier which was premiered by the Paris Opéra at the Salle Le Peletier on 16 April 1851. It was presented only 9 times in its initial production, but was a succès d'estime for the young composer, with the critics praising Act 3 in particular. It was later revived in 2-act (1858) and 4-act (1884) versions, achieving a total of 48 performances.
The impetus for the composition of Gounod's first opera, and its acceptance for performance at France's premiere opera house, was primarily due to the influence of Pauline Viardot, who met the young composer in January or February 1850, shortly after her triumph there in Meyerbeer's Le prophète. In his memoirs Gounod relates that the violinist François Seghers, who at that time was the leader of the Concerts de la Société Sainte-Cécile on the Rue Chaussée-d'Antin, had presented some pieces by Gounod which had made a favorable impression. The Viardot family knew Seghers and through him Gounod received an invitation to play several of his compositions on the piano so they could hear them. After several hours Pauline Viardot asked Gounod why he had not yet written an opera. He responded that he did not have a libretto. When she asked with whom he might like to work, he mentioned that although he had known Augier in childhood, the latter had now become far more famous than he and would hardly care to risk working with someone with whom he had only played hoops. Viardot immediately told Gounod to seek out Augier and tell him that she would take the responsibility to sing the principal role in Gounod's opera, if Augier would write the poem. Gounod also says that Viardot recommended his opera to the director of the company, who at that time was Nestor Roqueplan. According to her daughter, Viardot made renewal of her contract for the 1850-1851 season at the Opéra conditional on a commission for Augier and Gounod. In any case, the contract between Augier, Gounod, and Roqueplan, which was dated 1 April 1850, specified a 2-act opera to be provided by 30 September 1850 and performed no later than 1 April 1851.
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Roles in Sappho

Sapho Mezzo-Soprano
Glycère Mezzo-Soprano
OEnone Mezzo-Soprano
Phaon Tenor
Pythéas Bass
Alcée Baritone
Pittacus Bass
Cynégire Bass

More details roles

Popular videos from Sappho

Anita Rachvelishvili Sapho O ma lyre immortelle 46991
O ma lyre immortelle
Anita Rachvelishvili

All scenes from Sappho

Arias from Sappho

Nr.Title scenePopularityOperaComposerActTypeVoicesLang.Roles
1O ma lyre immortelle Popularity:

Opera: SapphoComposer: GounodAct:

Type: ariaVoice: mezzoLanguage: French

Roles: Sapho