Anna Picard

Darkness and light

Superb playing and singing, however, make it worthwhile

The femme fatale was invented in France. A giddy, greedy child in her first incarnation, as the antiheroine of Abbé Prévost’s L’Histoire du Chevalier Des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut (1731), she had no voice of her own. Reshaped as a sphinx by Alfred de Musset, made over as a gypsy by Prosper Mérimée, plumped out with fashionable sentimentality by Massenet and mordant sensuality by Puccini, her function was to beguile and elude, to want something that those who wanted her were unable to give her, then die.

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