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Regionalist Frictions in the Bullring

Regionalist Frictions in the Bullring Abstract Founded by entrepreneur and mélomane Castelbon de Beauxhostes in 1898, the Festival des Arènes de Béziers was an annual festival of lyric theater that featured important premieres by major French composers, including Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré, Henri Rabaud, and Déodat de Séverac. Performances were held in this Mediterranean town's modern, open-air bull-fighting arena and initially featured works inspired by Greek myths that were played in front of audiences that regularly exceeded ten thousand spectators. This article, which draws extensively upon unpublished archival material and contemporaneous press reports, examines the origins, challenges, and decline of this unlikely cultural and musical enterprise. Located far from the center of French theatrical activity, the Béziers festival was implicated in the contentious fin-de-siècle debates over cultural decentralization and regional identity and was criticized from the outset for not sufficiently adopting a regionalist mandate of highlighting local history, culture, and traditions. Further tensions were generated as a result of the contrasting expectations of elite and popular audiences and the concomitant aesthetic issues related to writing works intended to function as mass entertainment. This article argues that the Béziers festival gradually moved away from the elitism associated with modernized Hellenism (featured in the works by Saint-Saëns and Fauré) and gradually programmed works that were ostensibly friendlier to regionalists and local audiences alike (Rabaud and de Séverac). Finally, this article highlights the crucial role of the Félibres, a cultural and political group dedicated to valorizing southern regional identity, in advocating these changes and examines the unique nature of the works performed at Béziers in light of competing theatrical trends of this period. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png 19th-Century Music University of California Press

Regionalist Frictions in the Bullring

19th-Century Music , Volume 37 (3) – Apr 1, 2014

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Publisher
University of California Press
Copyright
© 2014 by the Regents of the University of California
ISSN
0148-2076
eISSN
1533-8606
DOI
10.1525/ncm.2014.37.3.211
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract Founded by entrepreneur and mélomane Castelbon de Beauxhostes in 1898, the Festival des Arènes de Béziers was an annual festival of lyric theater that featured important premieres by major French composers, including Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré, Henri Rabaud, and Déodat de Séverac. Performances were held in this Mediterranean town's modern, open-air bull-fighting arena and initially featured works inspired by Greek myths that were played in front of audiences that regularly exceeded ten thousand spectators. This article, which draws extensively upon unpublished archival material and contemporaneous press reports, examines the origins, challenges, and decline of this unlikely cultural and musical enterprise. Located far from the center of French theatrical activity, the Béziers festival was implicated in the contentious fin-de-siècle debates over cultural decentralization and regional identity and was criticized from the outset for not sufficiently adopting a regionalist mandate of highlighting local history, culture, and traditions. Further tensions were generated as a result of the contrasting expectations of elite and popular audiences and the concomitant aesthetic issues related to writing works intended to function as mass entertainment. This article argues that the Béziers festival gradually moved away from the elitism associated with modernized Hellenism (featured in the works by Saint-Saëns and Fauré) and gradually programmed works that were ostensibly friendlier to regionalists and local audiences alike (Rabaud and de Séverac). Finally, this article highlights the crucial role of the Félibres, a cultural and political group dedicated to valorizing southern regional identity, in advocating these changes and examines the unique nature of the works performed at Béziers in light of competing theatrical trends of this period.

Journal

19th-Century MusicUniversity of California Press

Published: Apr 1, 2014

Keywords: Keywords Camille Saint-Saëns , Gabriel Fauré , Déodat de Séverac , regionalism , Béziers

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