The Ladies' Man
Introducing some of the brilliant female singers who inspired Massenet's greatest roles.
He was one of the most successful composers of his age. Jules Massenet gave his adoring audiences just what they wanted: beautiful melody, rich sentimentality, romance, fantasy and an unmistakably French sense of elegance. It was a formula that served him well into the twentieth century, over a prolific output of twenty-five opera productions. His accomplishments were the product of a rigid personal regime, often starting work at four o'clock in the morning, and continuing for sixteen hours a day. When he wasn't composing, Massenet could often be found supervising his current stage production, or coaching the latest in a long line of brilliant leading ladies. Whether the whiff of scandal that followed him throughout his career had any basis in fact is still a subject for debate. What is unarguable is that he provided some of the best female voices of the age with music that tested their talents to the very limit.In this programme, Donald Macleod introduces some of Massenet's most significant leading ladies; the female singers who inspired him and, through their performances, made his music famous. Including American soprano, Sybil Sanderson, who created the roles of Esclarmonde, and Thaïs.
(BBC 3 copyright)