Musée d'Orsay: The Japanese Opera

The Japanese Opera

The opera was to catch on to japonism a few years behind other arts, mixing the approximation necessary for the stage with a sometimes manic study of ethnographic reality.

The most famous piece remains Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, first performed in La Scala in Milan in 1904 and at the Opéra-comique in Paris in 1906. Yet other endeavours had preceded it on the French lyrical stage, such as Madame Chrysanthème, a lyrical comedy by André Messager in the Théâtre Lyrique in 1893. Japan also dominated the ballet : Yedda would be first performed at the Palais Garnier in 1879. For this ballet, the costume designer Eugène Lacoste drew his inspiration from the prompts exhibited on the Champs de Mars the previous year. The costumes show a happy mix of pure fantasy and respect of tradition. The stage presentation seems, however, to be the only japonistic element of this ballet, the plot of which had been written by two journalists, Philippe Gille and Arnold Mortier, and the music by a famous waltz composer, Olivier Métra.


Martine Kahane

21 June - 18 September 1988
Musée d'Orsay

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