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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2011

Cormac Newark
Affiliation:
University of Ulster
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Summary

It is tempting to see in Proust's rendition of Tristan – clearly the example of opera in the novel most closely connected with actual performance, and no doubt also the most involved passage of counterpoint between operatic composition and literary character ever written – the ne plus ultra of the soirée à l'Opéra. Certainly the obsolescence of its original, theatrical manifestation seems persuasively demonstrated in À la recherche, not only by the enormously enriched reception made possible by its alternative, the explicit collapsing of the performer/audience distinction in the Tristan scene, but also by the petrifaction of the social structure portrayed in the one actual visit to the Palais Garnier described in the book. In the latter there is no music – the occasion is a gala performance of spoken theatre that includes an act of Racine's Phèdre featuring the great actress Berma – but for the Narrator the audience is as calcified as the operatic institution itself:

un panorama éphémère que les morts, les scandales, les maladies, les brouilles modifieraient bientôt, mais qui en ce moment était immobilisé par l'attention, la chaleur, le vertige, la poussière, l'élégance et l'ennui, dans cette espèce d'instant éternel et tragique d'inconsciente attente et de calme engourdissement qui, rétrospectivement, semble avoir précédé l'explosion d'une bombe ou la première flamme d'un incendie. […]

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Envoi
  • Cormac Newark, University of Ulster
  • Book: Opera in the Novel from Balzac to Proust
  • Online publication: 03 May 2011
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511921216.009
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  • Envoi
  • Cormac Newark, University of Ulster
  • Book: Opera in the Novel from Balzac to Proust
  • Online publication: 03 May 2011
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511921216.009
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Envoi
  • Cormac Newark, University of Ulster
  • Book: Opera in the Novel from Balzac to Proust
  • Online publication: 03 May 2011
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511921216.009
Available formats
×