As someone who enjoys Massenet immensely, I was delighted to receive for review his rarely-performed 1907 opera, Thérèse. It is a compact work consisting of two short acts and clocks in just under seventy minutes. The drama, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, is somewhat contrived and rushed. It feels like a work that is missing an act or two that would fill out the roles and give the drama more depth.
The plot is a love triangle (strains of Werther) consisting of the titular character, her husband André, and her former love Armand, who is a member of the French aristocracy and childhood friend of André. Needless to say, there is a guillotine involved and things do not end happily, with Thérèse forced to choose between her passion and her duty—fleeing with Armand or dying with her husband. Massenet is of course the master of writing for emotional, conflicted heroines and Thérèse is no exception. Read more »