GOUNOD, Charles François (1818-1893). French composer.
Autograph Letter Signed ('Ch. Gounod') [to Louis Gallet], 2 pages 8vo with integral blank, Saint-Cloud, no date [1877-1878].
About Maître Pierre, his unfinished opera on the subject of Abelard and Heloise: he expresses his satisfaction with Gallet's libretto, which will probably only need minor alterations which Gounod may not even need to bother him with, and requests a meeting with Gallet and Paul Poirson to discuss Gallet's suggestion of how to handle a scene between the two protagonists.
Maître Pierre was intended as Gounod's twelfth opera, and was planned in the summer of 1877 with the librettist Louis Gallet. Gounod documented his progress with the work in his letters to Paul Poiron, the scenarist of his previous opera Cinq Mars. There was much ribald speculation in the press at the time as to how the scene of Abelard's castration would be handled. Gounod's intention was for Abelard to be murdered at the end of the fourth act and for his ghost to visit Heloise in the final act. Although half the orchestration was complete by the summer of 1878, Gounod abandoned the work to begin another opera, Le tribut de Zamora, and later arranged some of the music in a 'Suite dramatique en quatre parties'. In 1904 Gounod's widow asked Saint-Saëns to complete the fifth act, and a concert performance of the final tableau was conducted by Reynaldo Hahn in 1939.
'I am delighted. It's excellent, both for feeling and meaning. As you say, I may have to ask you about a few little alterations of terminology as the work progresses, (or even simply make them without bothering you), but they are minor, maybe just a question of cutting a couple of lines here and there. Don't worry about it. Yes, I think Hel[oise] and M[aître] P[ierre] need something to say, along the lines of the cut in the final chorus; neither he nor she can remain silent at that moment.Anyway, we can discuss all that with Paul [Poirson] as soon as you are back. Might you be free on Friday? or Saturday? Let me, and Paul, know as soon as possible and fix a time between the two of you, either at St James or at St Cloud.' [translation]
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