概况 Overview

梅西安于1975-1983年所创作的歌剧《阿西西的圣方济》(Saint François d’Assise),係集梅湘音乐语言大成之作品。虽然大部分学者皆肯定其音乐上的杰出成就,然而,《圣方济》孱弱的、无发展的戏剧性却屡屡招致批评。

简介 Introduction

梅西安于1975-1983年所创作的歌剧《阿西西的圣方济》(Saint François d’Assise),係集梅湘音乐语言大成之作品。虽然大部分学者皆肯定其音乐上的杰出成就,然而,《圣方济》孱弱的、无发展的戏剧性却屡屡招致批评。由于歌剧中缺乏冲突性以及强烈的情绪起伏、整体的剧情推衍缓慢而凝滞,再加上《圣方济》内含深奥的神学哲思,使这部作品常常被类比为神剧,或中世纪的礼仪剧。

事实上,梅西安面对此部歌剧「无戏剧性」的攻讦声浪时,曾明确提出歌剧中具有戏剧性的场景做为反驳;其中,第三景〈亲吻痲疯病人〉由于具有独特的戏剧性与情绪,并隐含「双重奇蹟」,更是作曲家心目中「戏剧性」的立体呈现。

背景

早年就对歌剧和莎士比亚的戏剧极感兴趣的一位作曲家,直等到66岁才写歌剧,不免令人诧异。据梅西安自称,要不是巴黎大歌剧的罗尔夫●利伯曼坚持约请,他是不会着手作此歌剧的。梅西安自认没有戏剧天赋,尽管早年对此甚感兴趣。题材由作曲家自选;出于他的宗教信仰,他当然选中阿西西的圣方济各。再说,圣方济各对鸟布道的传说使梅西安有机会发挥他对鸟鸣的爱好,用作歌剧的一部分音乐素材。台本是作曲家亲自编写的,诗歌创作始于1975年。音乐作于1975至1979年,配器成于1979至1983年。1983年11月28日首演于巴黎大歌剧院。

歌剧并不介绍圣方济各的一生,它包括一系列场景,介绍圣方济各灵性成长过程中的几个关键事件或插曲,根据14世纪方济各会僧侣所作《小花》和《圣五伤的默想》中所述。。全剧共三幕八场,每场自成起迄,每场又分若千小单元,往往采用重复的模式。独唱写作犹如素歌(调式却是用梅西安自己的),150人的巨大合唱加深了礼仪的感觉。乐队规模相仿(120名演奏员),包括巨大的木管组和调音打击乐器组,以及三只马特诺电子琴,为生动而经扩音器扩大的鸟鸣提供音源;鸟鸣在总谱中不时出现,作为渲染和重点。每一场景陈述圣方济各一生中的一个事件,不提他早年的矛盾,而以他的信和蒙恩为中心。场景内部或场景与场景之间没有戏剧性的延续,倒像是一组独立、静止的彩色玻璃窗。

剧情

人物:天使(女高音),圣方济各(男中音),麻疯病人(男高音),列昂神甫(男中音),马赛神甫(男高音),艾利神甫(男高音),贝纳神甫(男低音),西尔威斯特神甫(男低音),鲁分神甫(男低音),合唱

第一幕有三场,第一场为《十字架》,方济各(男中音)在旅途中向僧侣列奥神甫(男中音)讲解“完全喜乐”的涵义,以长段独白告诉他,“完全喜乐”在于想到基督被钉十字架而愿意忍受痛苦。然后是《赞美》,方济各和他的会众在祈祷,方济各颂唱《生灵之歌》。最后一场吻麻风病人中,他遇见一个身体和精神极为痛苦的麻风病人(男高音)。他教他忍心,但是劝说无用,后来天使(女高音)出现,歌唱神就是爱。方济各猛地醒悟自己对麻风病人爱得不深,便拥抱他,此刻出现了奇迹,衣衫褴褛、愤慨失望的病人得到了治疗,变回到一位中世纪的绅士,跳起胜利的舞蹈,从此他学会忍耐和忏悔。这一幕以合唱结束。

第二幕仍是三场。在《旅行天使》中,天使来大声捶敲隐修院的门,质问僧侣关于命运的问题。一个僧侣怒气冲冲地应门,另一个作了回答,天使离去。《音乐天使>回到正在祈祷的方济各那里,在维奥尔琴上演奏-条天上的旋律(实际上由马特诺电子琴演奏),方济各听后昏倒在地,三个神甫发现了他,他醒来后说,如果音乐再继续演奏,他的灵魂会离开他的肉身。第六场<对鸟布道>中,他和马赛奥神甫(男高音)在一起,识别众鸟,向他们布道,称赞他们能自由飞翔、能像天使一般歌唱无词的音乐,并向他们传道,祝福。沉默片刻后,开始一场伟大的众鸟音乐会,由不同乐器、不同合奏同步演奏、不同的鸟鸣。然后,众鸟飞去,在天空中排列成一-个巨大的十字架。

第三幕第一场《圣五伤》的景设在夜晚,乐队阴沉地演奏猫头鹰叫和严酷的十二音音型。方济各祈求死前能在自己身上和心里感受到基督被钉十字架的痛苦,合唱以基督接受他的祭献为应答。舞台背景上显示出一个巨大的黑色十字架,在合唱与乐队的迸发声下放射出一道道光,刺透圣人的手、脚和肋下。末场是《死亡与新生》,方济各向鸟、向城市和人们告别。他听见夜莺在黑暗中歌唱,歌声突然变成光,光中出现天使和麻风病人,助他善终。他祈求圣光耀眼地照射,咽气。列奧神甫指出他走得平静,僧侣们抬着圣方济各的尸体离去。但是歌剧以复活的众赞歌ff地结束,声乐与器乐齐鸣,圣方济各肉身躺处强光四射。梅西安自1975年到1983年创作这部歌剧,化了8年时间。

和晚期的其他许多作品一样,歌剧包罗了他创作生涯开始以来的许多技巧。如果说这部作品有什么惊人之处,那应是它的块状结构,以及调式的结合,用以连接不论是多么互不相于的因素,使任何音乐目的都能与神圣的礼仪结合得水乳交融。

简介 Introduction

Saint François d'Assise is an opera in three acts and eight scenes by French composer and librettist Olivier Messiaen, written from 1975 to 1983. It concerns Saint Francis of Assisi, the title character, and displays the composer's devout Catholicism. The world première was given by the Paris Opera at the Palais Garnier on 28 November 1983.

Composition history

Despite his studies of Mozart and Wagner operas, Messiaen thought he would never compose an opera. When Rolf Liebermann, general manager of the Paris Opera, commissioned an opera from Messiaen in 1971 the composer refused. Messiaen changed his mind when Liebermann arranged that he be a guest at a dinner at the Elysée Palace, hosted by then French President Georges Pompidou; at the end of the dinner Pompidou said: "Messiaen, you will write an opera for the Opéra de Paris!". In searching for subject matter, Messiaen pondered dramatizing either Christ's Passion or his Resurrection. Feeling unworthy of either subject, he eventually chose to dramatize the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, which paralleled Christ's chastity, humility, poverty, and suffering.

The process of writing the opera took its toll on the composer. Initially, Messiaen set to work and he made rapid progress as it became the sole object of his musical attention. By 1977 he contacted the general manager of the Paris National Opera to say he was ready to play through an unorchestrated version of the opera. Messiaen could not envisage orchestrating the opera by 1980, and adding to the pressure on Messiaen, there was a leak on the radio that he was writing an opera about Saint Francis. This revelation transgressed Messiaen's normal practice of secrecy when composing.

Messiaen appealed for a deadline extension in 1979. The new date was agreed to be 1983; however, Messiaen's health was now beginning to deteriorate. In 1981 he had several periods of ill-health, and Messiaen once again doubted that he would finish according to plan. Messiaen began to suffer from depressions, and by December 1981 he felt unable to go on. However, his doctor advised him to take daily walks to increase his wellbeing and he began to attend evening mass at the Sacre Coeur. This encouraged Messiaen to go on and complete the work, though by completion it had left its mark and he was still convinced it would be his last.

Libretto

For maximum artistic freedom, Messiaen penned both libretto and score. For nearly eight years, the composer consulted Franciscan sources, reading biographies by Thomas of Celano and St. Bonaventure, as well as Francis' own prayers (including Canticle of the Sun). He also cited passages from the FiorettiConsiderations on the Stigmata and the Bible.

In order to focus on the progress of grace in Francis's soul after his conversion, Messiaen omitted certain episodes in his hero's life, including the often-romanticized relationship between Francis and St. Clare, and the fable of his taming of a wild wolf at Gubbio.

Critics later chastised Messiaen for beginning the action after Francis’s conversion. The composer defended his choice in an interview with Claude Samuel: "Some people have told me, 'There's no sin in your work.' But I myself feel sin isn't interesting, dirt isn't interesting. I prefer flowers. I left out sin."

The opera's eight scenes, divided into three acts, delineate Francis’s spiritual development. Act One contains scenes in which he realizes his goals: "La Croix" (The Cross), "Les Laudes" (Lauds) and "Le Baiser au Lépreux" (The Kissing of the Leper). Act Two shows Francis's journey towards enlightenment, ministry and divinity: "L’Ange voyageur" (The Journeying Angel), "L’Ange musicien" (The Angel Musician) and "Le Prêche aux oiseaux" (The Sermon to the Birds). The scenes of Act Three explore the saint's approach to divinity and his entrance into eternity: "Les Stigmates" (The Stigmata) and "La Mort et la Nouvelle Vie" (Death and the New Life).

Performance history

After the 1983 world premiere at the Palais Garnier, Saint François was not staged for almost a decade. The opera was presented on stage again by the 1992 Salzburg Festival (at the Felsenreitschule), directed by Peter Sellars with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the orchestra pit. This production was revived in 1998, again at the Salzburg Festival. Productions at Oper Leipzig (1998) and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (2002) followed. The American premiere took place at the San Francisco Opera in 2002. Since then, the opera was presented in staged productions by the RuhrTriennale at the Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum (2003, also shown in the Madrid Arena in Spain in 2011), by the Opéra National de Paris at the Opéra Bastille in Paris (2004), by the Muziektheater in Amsterdam (2008), by the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (2011, directed by Hermann Nitsch), and by Staatstheater Darmstadt (2018).

Roles

  • Saint François (Saint Francis) – baritone
  • L'Ange (The Angel) – soprano (though sung by a soprano, the libretto refers to the Angel as "he" throughout)
  • Le Lépreux (The Leper) – tenor
  • Frère Léon (Brother Leo) – baritone
  • Frère Massée (Brother Masseo) – tenor
  • Frère Elie (Brother Elias) – tenor
  • Frère Bernard (Brother Bernard) – bass
  • Frère Sylvestre (Brother Sylvestro) – baritone
  • Frère Rufin (Brother Rufus) – baritone

Synopsis

Place: Italy.
Time: 13th century.

The subject of each scene is borrowed from the Fioretti and the Reflexions on the Stigmata, books written by anonymous Franciscans of the 14th century. There are seven characters: Saint Francis, the Leper, the Angel, Brother Elias, and three Brothers especially beloved of Saint Francis--Brother Leo, Brother Masseo, and Brother Bernard. Throughout the work one must see the progress of grace in the soul of Saint Francis.

Act 1

Scene 1: The Cross

Saint Francis explains to Brother Leo that for the love of Christ he must patiently endure all contradictions, all suffering. This is the "Perfect joy."

Scene 2: Lauds

After the recitation of Matins by the Brothers, Saint Francis, remaining alone, prays that he might meet a leper and be capable of loving him.

Scene 3: The Kissing of the Leper

At a leper-hospital, a leper, horribly blood-stained and covered in pustules, rails against his disease. Saint Francis enters and, sitting close to him, speaks gently. An angel appears behind a window and says: "Leper, your heart accuses you, but God is greater than your heart." Troubled by the voice and by the goodness of Saint Francis, the leper is stricken with remorse. Saint Francis embraces him and, miraculously, the leper is cured and dances for joy. More important than the cure of the leper is the growth of grace in the soul of Saint Francis and his exultation at having triumphed over himself.

Act 2

Scene 4: The Journeying Angel

On a forest road on La Verna an angel appears, disguised as a traveler. His knocking on the door of the monastery makes a terrific sound, symbolising the inrush of Grace. Brother Masseo opens the door. The Angel asks Brother Elias, the vicar of the Order, a question about predestination. Brother Elias refuses to answer and pushes the Angel outside. The Angel knocks on the door again and puts the same question to Brother Bernard, who replies with much wisdom. The Angel having gone, Brother Bernard and Brother Masseo look at each other, Bernard remarking, "Perhaps it was an angel..."

Scene 5: The Angel-Musician

The Angel appears to Saint Francis and, to give him a foretaste of celestial bliss, plays him a solo on his viol. This solo is so glorious that Francis swoons.

Scene 6: The Sermon to the Birds

Set at Assisi, at the Carceri, with a large green oak tree in spring with many birds singing. Saint Francis, followed by Brother Masseo, preaches a sermon to the birds and solemnly blesses them. The birds reply with a great chorus in which are heard not only birds of Umbria, especially the blackcap, but also birds of other countries, of distant lands, notably the Isle of Pines, close to New Caledonia.

Act 3

Scene 7: The Stigmata

On La Verna at night in a cave beneath an overhanging rock, Saint Francis is alone. A great Cross appears. The voice of Christ, symbolized by a choir, is heard almost continually. Five luminous beams dart from the Cross and successively strike the two hands, the two feet, and the right side of Saint Francis, with the same terrific sound that accompanied the Angel's knocking. These five wounds, which resemble the five wounds of Christ, are the divine confirmation of Saint Francis's holiness.

Scene 8: Death and the New Life

Saint Francis is dying, stretched out at full length on the ground. All the Brothers are around him. He bids farewell to all those he has loved, and sings the last verse of his Canticle of the Sun, the verse of "our sister bodily Death". The Brothers sing Psalm 141. The Angel and the Leper appear to Saint Francis to comfort him. Saint Francis utters his last words: "Lord! Music and poetry have led me to Thee [...] in default of Truth [...] dazzle me for ever by Thy excess of Truth..." He dies. Bells ring. Everything disappears. While the choir hymns the Resurrection, a patch of light illuminates the spot where previously the body of Saint Francis lay. The light increases until it becomes blinding. The curtain falls.

Musical elements

Messiaen's wealth of experience as an orchestral composer manifests itself in Saint François d’Assise. In fact, Messiaen devotes a great majority of the opera's running time to orchestral music, though not to the detriment of character development. The composer reflects the characters’ psychological and emotional state through the use of leitmotif and birdsong.

Leitmotif

Several leitmotifs exist in the orchestral score, most of which connect to one or more characters.

  • Death (or "J’ai peur")

The dramatic action of the opera begins with the entrance of Brother Leo, who sings the "death" motif to words taken from the end of Ecclesiastes: "I am afraid on the road, when the windows grow larger and more obscure, and when the leaves of the poinsettia no longer turn red." "I am afraid on the road, when, about to die, the tiare flower is no longer perfumed. Behold! The invisible, the invisible is seen…" This theme repeats nearly every time Leo enters, and the orchestra accompanies it with lazy glissandos in the strings.

  • Perfect Joy ("la joie parfaite")

Francis answers Leo's introspection with the "perfect joy" motif, a combination of Trumpet in D, xylophone and woodwinds. This motif reoccurs several times throughout the piece. In some cases, Brother Leo's "death" motif alternates with Francis’ "perfect joy" motif.

  • Solemnity

Messiaen linked Francis’ moments of great solemnity with quite possibly the most pervasive motif of the opera. It is structured as a tone cluster in the trombone section, creating an ominous, harsh sound. The motif is quite evident in the second scene, wherein Francis asks God to let him meet a leper: "Fais-moi rencontrer un lépreux." The tone clusters break up his line of text: "Fais-moi"—cluster—"rencontrer"—cluster—"un lépreux."

  • Grace

During Scene Four at La Verna, the Angel knocks on the monastery door. Messiaen represents the knocking with a motif heavy pounding sounds in the percussion and strings. He saw these knocks as an entry of grace—a force one must not resist. The Angel's knocking foreshadows Francis’ eventual acceptance of the stigmata during Scene Seven. The main difference in Scene Seven is that the motif represents the painful, brutal pounding of nails into Christ's body.

Birdsong

Messiaen considered himself an ornithologist, and his love for birds is evident in the opera. The composer traveled to the saint's native Assisi, as well as New Caledonia, to research and record birdcalls of several local species, later transcribing them into melodies for use as musical themes attached to particular characters.

  • François – Capinera (Italian for "Blackcap")

Upon entering caves at the Carceri (just east of Assisi), Messiaen heard the call of the capinera. Francis often retreated to these caves for meditation and prayer, thus the choice of the capinera is fitting.

  • L’Ange – Gerygone

This yellow-bellied warbler from New Caledonia signals nearly every entrance and exit of the Angel. Messiaen scored the gerygone with a staccato piccolo alternating with glockenspiel and xylophone. In some cases, the kestrel birdcall accompanies the gerygone.

  • Frère Elie – Notou

Francis’ most contrarian brother, Elias, receives the birdcall of this "gloomy sounding pigeon" from New Caledonia.

  • Frère Bernard – Philemon (or "friarbird")

The philemon birdcall (most likely recorded in New Caledonia) reflects Bernardo's age and wisdom while punctuating his musical and textual phrases.

Messiaen devotes the entire sixth scene ("La Prêche aux oiseaux" or, The Sermon to the Birds) to all manner of birdsong as Francis delivers his famous sermon with Brother Masseo in attendance.

Orchestra

Messiaen's full orchestration requires more than 110 musicians, placing great demands on budgets as well as orchestra pit space. At the Palais Garnier, the overflow of players were placed in boxes adjacent to the stage.

  • Woodwinds: 3 piccolos, 3 flutes, 1 alto flute, 3 oboes, 1 English horn, 2 E♭ clarinets, 3 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 1 contrabass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon
  • Brass: 6 horns in F, 1 small trumpet in D, 3 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 bass tubas, 1 contrabass tuba
  • Strings: 16 first violins, 16 second violins, 14 violas, 12 cellos and 10 double basses
  • Percussion (5 players):
Player 1: bells, claves, eoliphone, snare drum
Player 2: triangle, claves, 6 temple blocks, very small cymbal, small cymbal, suspended cymbal
Player 3: triangle, claves, wood block, whip, a pair of maracas, a reco reco or guiro, glass chimes, shell chimes, wood chimes, tambourine, 3 gongs
Player 4: triangle, claves, set of crotales, large suspended cymbal, suspended cymbal, medium tom-tom, low tom-tom, 3 tam-tams
Player 5: set of bells, metal sheet, claves, geophone, eoliphone, bass drum

In addition to these, pitched percussion instruments are also used: one xylophone, one xylorimba, one marimba, one glockenspiel and one vibraphone, as well as three Ondes Martenot which the composer described in his interview with Claude Samuel as being 'very rare in an opera!'.

Chorus

The opera requires a ten-part, 150-voice choir, which serves a twofold role: Greek chorus and divine presence. Throughout the piece, the chorus comments on Francis’ spiritual journey. The first three scenes include a commentary on the preceding plot action with a "moral." For example, after Francis' conversation with Leo on "perfect joy", the chorus sings the text "He who would walk in my steps, let him renounce himself, take up his Cross and follow me." One could say that this text carries a double purpose—the moral is not only sung, but comes from the mouth of Christ. In the latter scenes of the opera, especially The Stigmata, the chorus perpetuates its image as Christ speaking directly to Francis as He bestows the wounds onto the saint. Messiaen's choral writing, especially the violent, wordless chants during The Stigmata, suggests a mystical, otherworldly presence.

Color

Messiaen's synesthesia caused a perception of colors associated with particular harmonies or musical scale degrees. For instance, when hearing a C-natural on the piano, the composer saw "white" before his eyes. In the opera, Messiaen underscores the final moments (Francis’ death and ascent into heaven) on a C major chord structure, providing a musical burst of white light. It is unclear whether this final chord structure was coincidental or intentional.

Messiaen's other research

Messiaen traveled to Italy not merely for birdcall research. In Assisi, he visited the Basilica of Saint Francis to study the Giotto frescoes. During rehearsal for the premiere production, the composer coached baritone José van Dam (creator of the title role) in some of the gestures and attitudes evoked on the Giotto masterpieces. Messiaen also made a side trip to Florence. While in the monastery of San Marco, he found inspiration for the Angel's costume in one of several paintings of the Annunciation by Fra Angelico. As a result, the libretto includes a costume note on the exact shade of the Angel's robe (as dictated by the original artwork): a pinkish mauve between lilac and salmon.

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梅西安 - 歌剧《阿西西的圣方济各》
作品信息
作曲 :梅西安 1975-1983
体裁 :歌剧
链接 :维基
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更新时间:2019-07-21 15:27