Saint Francis of Assisi is an opera in 3 acts by Olivier Messiaen. This volume is part of the edition that includes the books with the full Orchestra scores, as well as the explanations, analysis and comments on each tableau. It is focused on the “Act II, Tableau 4. L’Ange voyageur” which describes the appearance of the “Traveller Angel” to Saint Francis.
This tableau is introduced by each of the themes of Brothers Leon, Élie and Bernard and the theme of Philemon, the bird. It opens as the Brothers are confronted to the Angel but don’t recognise him straight away except for Brother Bernard, who reacts wisely. The Angel then requests to talk to Father Francis, and the tableau finishes, introducing the following part: “Act II, Tableau 5. L’ange musicien”. Within this tableau 4, birdsong can be heard that is reminiscent of Messiaen's 'Bird Catalogue' collection.
Based on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, this opera is set in Italy and is composed as per below:
1. La croix
2. Les laudes
3. Le baiser au lépreux
4. L’ange voyageur
5. L’ange musicien
6. Le prêche aux oiseaux
7. Les stigmates
8. La mort et la nouvelle vie
This opera was played at the Paris Opera in 1983.
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) was a French organist and composer passionate about Ornithology and one of the most important composers of his century. Inspired by Japanese music, he had a very special way of composing and his work can be identified by its complexity, its diatonic aspect, its harmony with limited transposition, its colour and its additive rhythms. He composed many works related to ornithology and birdsong, including the 'Bird Catalogue' in 7 volumes and the 'Treatise on rhythm, colour and ornithology' in 7 volumes.