Mireille's Homecoming? Gounod, Mistral and the Midi

Katharine Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
452 Downloads (Pure)


In 1899, six years after Gounod’s death, his Provençal opera Mireille (1864) suddenly became a focal point for regionalist celebration and debate in the South of France. It also, in a paradoxical sense, came “home” to Arles—a town that the original poem’s author, Frédéric Mistral, made clear his heroine had never visited. In this article the resulting invented tradition, which began thirty-five years after the opera’s Paris premiere and rested on standard notions of authenticity and belonging, is contextualized by reference to the very different life it led in the Midi as a standard “municipal” opera sent out, after significant revision, from Paris. Joep Leerssen’s theory of cultural nationalism provides a frame for analyzing how and why this opera, which set a regionalist manifesto to music but was not a manifesto itself, could be only incompletely appropriated by Mistral and his félibres as an emblematic “national” work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-509
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of the American Musicological Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • France
  • regionalism
  • opera
  • Gounod
  • Mistral

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