La Juive, Barbican, London

halevy.jpgBy Andrew Clark [Financial Times, 20 September 2006]
How topical: an opera about religious intolerance. Jacques Fromental HalÈvyís La Juive (The Jewess) ends with Jews and Christians exchanging abuse, both believing they have avenged themselves on each other through a brutal execution. But it was far from topical at its 1835 Paris premiere. What represents actualitÈ to us was passÈ to mid-19th- century Europe. Jewish emancipation was in the ascendant. Intolerance could be viewed dispassionately, and anyway it was the tortured love element that interested HalÈvy and his librettist EugËne Scribe. La Juive was instantly popular ñ here was opera-spectacle verging on opera-soap ñ but, curiously, just as religious intolerance returned, it fell from favour.