An introduction to an operetta: Pauline Viardot's Le Dernier Sorcier for the young opera studio
This document discusses the performance possibilities of Le dernier sorcier, an operetta by composer Pauline Viardot and librettist Ivan Turgenev, for the young opera studio, and contains a performance edition of the work. The edition includes piano accompaniment, French text, an original English translation of the libretto dialogue, and an annotated score based on Viardot’s manuscript papers located at the Hollis Library at Harvard University. Pauline Viardot was an internationally-renowned mezzo soprano in the nineteenth century who also demonstrated superb skills as a pianist and a keen interest in vocal composition. Unfortunately, as with many other women composers throughout the history of Western music, Viardot’s compositions remain overlooked and underappreciated. After retiring from the opera stage, Viardot turned her attention to teaching, which inspired her to compose works with a specific educational purpose in mind. Due to their practical nature, Viardot’s vocal works are often straightforward and accessible, while still posing appropriate challenges to the performers. Since Viardot’s operettas were composed specifically for her young female students, Le dernier sorcier would make an excellent repertoire choice for undergraduate university opera programs. It is the author’s hope that, through a discussion of historical context, an overview of the music and libretto, and an original performance edition, Le dernier sorcier will become an accessible option for undergraduate performance, and that the work itself will stimulate further interest in the remainder of Viardot’s operettas and vocal works.