Guide to "La Navarraise" opera scene and costume lithographs C0471
Published by George Mason University Libraries
"La Navarraise," translated from the French as "The Girl from Navarre" is an 1894 opera by Jules Massenet. Set in the Navarre region of Spain, "La Navarraise" is a "verismo" opera, a style that was popularized in the 1890s which focused on telling stories with greater realism. Based on the short story "La cigarette" by Jules Clartie, "La Navarraise" tells the story of a Navarre woman named Anita who is in love with a soldier named Arquil. Both encounter many thwarts to their passionate love, with drama and death ensuing.
A short opera - clocking in around 50 minutes - "La Navarraise" was immediately compared to another beloved verismo opera of the time, "Cavalleria rusticana" by Pietro Masacagni: "[B]oth works were startling in their brevity and in their intense drama; both received their Parisian premieres at the Opera-Comique; and both featured the soprano Emma Calve in the lead role. Henri Gauthier-Villars even went so far as to observe wryly in L'echo de Paris that Massenet might as well have given La Navarraise the title 'Cavalleria espagnola'" (Bentley, p.30.) Unfortunately the opera couldn't shake its reputation of being a "Cavalleria" copycat - for this reason "La Navarraise" has not endured alongside its other verismo contemporaries and is rarely performed today.
Lithography was an extremely popular method of illustration, particularly in the 19th century. Invented by Alois Senefelder in 1796, Lithographs are created by drawing or writing on limestone with a grease crayon, rolling the stone in ink, and then printing the image - an extremely economical method as multiple copies could be created at once. Colored lithography came later, and was also extremely popular.
Four lithographs featuring one scene and three plates of costume designs for the opera "La Navarraise" by Heugel & Cie, Editeurs (Huegel music publishing company) printed circa 1894 in Paris. The first lithograph features a black and white street scene from the opera by E. Buval after R. Caney. The first plate of the costume lithographs features the characters Anita, Arquil, and Remigio. The second features General Garrido, Captain Ramon, and an Aide de Camp. The third and final plate features Captain of the General Staff and A Wounded Soldier. The costume lithographs are hand-colored. All of the lithographs feature the same French text: the title "La Navarraise Episode Lyrique de J. Massenet." as well as the publisher's information on the two bottom corners.
This is a single folder collection.
There are no access restrictions.
Public Domain. There are no known restrictions.
The Special Collections Research Center also holds the "Cavalleria rusticana" opera costume paintings and many other materials related to opera and the performing arts.
Massenet, Jules, 1842-1912. (Title of work: Navarraise.)
"La Navarraise" opera scene and costume lithographs, C0471, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.
Purchased by Steve Gerber from J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians in March 2016.
Processing completed by Amanda Brent in March 2021. EAD markup completed by Amanda Brent in March 2021. This item was formerly part of the Performing Arts Manuscript Materials collection, C0215.
Ashman, Mike. "MASSENET La Navarraise (Veronesi.)" Gramophone. Accessed March 5, 2021. https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/massenet-la-navarraise-veronesi.
Bentley, Charlotte. "Beyond Verismo: Massenet's La Navarraise and 'Realism' in Fin-de-Siecle Paris." Journal of the Royal Musical Association 144, no. 1 (2019): 29-54. Ives, Colta.
"Lithography in the Nineteenth Century." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. December 11, 2020. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/lith/hd_lith.htm.
"Lithography, Heliography & Photography." The International Printing Museum. December 11, 2020. https://www.printmuseum.org/ipm/lithography-heliography-photography-part-one/.