Napoleonic Commemoration on the Operatic Stage

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The retour des cendres, the commemorative return of Napoleon’s remains in 1840, represented an important gesture of Napoleonic restoration in the July Monarchy, along with the creation of monuments, paintings, histories, plays, and encomiums to the defeated emperor. The monarchy’s commemoration expanded to the stage of the Paris Opéra in 1841 with the appearance of La reine de Chypre, the five-act grand opera by Fromental Halévy and Henri de Saint-Georges, which reverberated with sonic, visual, literary, and political allusions to the Napoleonic legend and overt references to the ceremonial return of the emperor’s ashes, including its use of the grandes trompettes from Napoléon’s cortege and Invalides service. In its historical reframing of Catarina Cornaro’s early fifteenth-century rise to power in Cyprus and defiance of Venetian tyranny, the nostalgic portrayal of exiled French chevaliers, particularly the dying king Lusignan, evoked France’s fallen hero as it joined in the dynamic reshaping of imperial memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-317
Number of pages31
JournalFrench Historical Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • July Monarchy
  • Opéra
  • Paris
  • commemoration
  • keywords Napoleon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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