Jules Massenet (1842-1912). Son of a blue-collar foundry worker, Jules Massenet rose from humble beginnings to become one of France’s most popular opera composers. Early in his career, he hit upon a technique which would ensure his works’ appeal; after the success of Marie-Magdaleine, Massenet penned a string of operas featuring reformed courtesans—a trend the composer’s female fans adored. Privately, he confessed, “I don’t believe in all that creeping-Jesus stuff, but the public likes it and we must always agree with the public.” The courtesan trend ended with Thaпs; Massenet’s later operas include Manon and Sapho.
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