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 of each tableau. It is focused on the “Act II, 5. L'Ange musicien” which describes the appearance of the “Musician Angel” to Saint Francis.
This tableau is introduced by St Francis on his knees, next to the cave. Three themes stand out in the opening of this tableau: the Decision, the Joyce and the Calling. Some bird songs can be heard, and the Angel appears in the light with a Viol and a bow. The Angel Musician plays alongside some birds and leave St Francis fainting. He is soon joined by Brother Léon, Brother Massée and Brother Bernard who try to help him. The last theme played is the Joyce one with some notes on the Viol, while the tableau finishes with the three Brothers looking at the sky.
Based on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, this opera is set in Italy and is composed divided 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 birdsongs, including the 'Bird Catalogue' in 7 volumes and the 'Treatise on rhythm, colour and ornithology' in 7 volumes.