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France and Ireland

Notes and Narratives


Una Hunt and Mary Pierse

The rich association between Ireland and France is embodied in music, art and creative writing from both countries and this collection provides a tantalising selection of these interweaving influences. The book presents a vivid picture of interactions between composers, performers, poets and novelists on each side of the Celtic Sea. Surprises abound, with music unexpectedly linking Ireland and France through George Alexander Osborne and Frédéric Chopin, through Thomas Moore and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, through Irish-inspired French opera and a French-directed Irish orchestra. Words and music meet in a Kate O'Brien novel, a musical interpretation of Verlaine and a selection of Paula Meehan's poetry, while the encounter between wine and music creates new possibilities for artistic and cultural expression. Exploring the works and influence of a wide range of figures including James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Jacques Derrida, J.M. Synge, Hélène Cixous, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Hector Berlioz, Maurice Ravel, Neil Jordan and John Field, the essays collected here uncover a wealth of artistic interconnections between France and Ireland.
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Ireland in the Musical Imagination of Third Republic France


This chapter will examine images of Ireland as evoked in the music of the Third Republic in France with particular focus on the 1924 production of Henri Rabaud’s L’Appel de la mer, addressing its libretto, score, and reception history. The musical adaptation of any literary text will always result in some transformation of the original material but when Rabaud (1873–1949) decided to set John Millington Synge’s Riders to the Sea as a one-act opera, he strove to retain its authentic local colour, natural dialogue, and references to islander rituals, all the while writing with the Opéra-Comique audience in mind. ‘They’re all gone now, and there isn’t anything more the sea can do to me’, laments Maurya towards the end of Synge’s one-act play about a widow from the Aran Islands who loses her husband and each of her six sons to the surrounding North Atlantic ocean. The isolated island, its people, and traditions comprise Maurya’s entire world, one so self-contained and alienated that even the west coast of Ireland seems impossibly distant. How, then, did a 1903 drama about the grinding daily hardship of a tiny fishing village find its way to the cosmopolitan setting of a Parisian opera house in 1924?

A most celebrated Franco-Irish literary and musical connection had been established by Hector Berlioz’s Neuf mélodies irlandaises (published in 1830 and subsequently retitled Irlande).1 Composed nearly a century later, Rabaud’s work is one of the most substantial efforts to unite...

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