Saint-Saëns, Camille


Saint-Saëns, Camille

Phryné (full opera score with French libretto)

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Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns – Phryné

(born Paris, October 9, 1835 – died Algiers / Algeria, December 16, 1921)

„I shall never write a work like Phryné again“.1 This is about the eighth of his total of 11 operas, according to the „most important musician in France after Hector Berlioz“2, Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns. He also emerged as the editor of the text-critical editions of Rameau’s and Gluck’s works, worked as a music critic and advocated the work of Richard Wagner in France. After receiving early musical education from his great aunt and mother, Saint-Saëns studied piano with the French pianist and composer Camille Stamaty (1811-1970), organ with the organist and composer Francois Benoist (1794-1878) and composition with Jacques Fromental Halévy (1799-1862) at the Paris Conservatory.3

The lively opera comique „Phryné“ by the French all-round artist, i.e composer, pianist, conductor, musicologist and music teacher Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns, whose most famous works, the „Carnival of the Animals“ and his Opera „Samson et Dalila“ can be found still today on the concert and performance schedules, is named after a former poor caper trader. A daughter of Epicle, she rose to become a Greek hetaera, who lived in Thespiai in the 4th century BC and actually was called Mnēsaretḗ (ancient Greek Μνησαρετή). She was given the name Phryne, which means toad, because of her yellowish skin.4 But Saint-Saëns does not tell the life of the historical person Phryné, because the opera character has „nothing to do with the notorious Athenian hetaera […]. The text is a mystification. Phryne, an ancient Greek girl, who is being pursued by her lover’s uncle with proposals for love, finally gets the old man to pay his nephew‘s debts. The famous scene in front of the Areopagus occurs, but it is not Miss Sanderson (Phryne) but her statue that is presented to the learned judges.“

The idea of composing a music-theatrical work about the events around Phryne was not new, the trio Edmund Eysler (composer), Fritz Grünbaum and Robert Bodanzky (libretto) also wrote a burlesque operette called „Phryne“. …


Read full preface / Komplettes Vorwort lesen > HERE

Score Data


Opera Explorer




210 x 297 mm





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