21 Sep 2006
La Juive, Barbican, London
By Andrew Clark [Financial Times, 20 September 2006]
How topical: an opera about religious intolerance. Jacques Fromental Halévy’s La Juive (The Jewess) ends with Jews and Christians exchanging abuse, both believing they have avenged themselves on each other through a brutal execution. But it was far from topical at its 1835 Paris premiere. What represents actualité to us was passé to mid-19th- century Europe. Jewish emancipation was in the ascendant. Intolerance could be viewed dispassionately, and anyway it was the tortured love element that interested Halévy and his librettist Eugène Scribe. La Juive was instantly popular – here was opera-spectacle verging on opera-soap – but, curiously, just as religious intolerance returned, it fell from favour.