Cherubini – Overture to Les Deux Journées (The Water Carrier)

by Max Derrickson

Luigi Cherubini   (1740-1842)

Overture to Les Deux Journées (The Water Carrier)


In the first decade of the 1800’s, Europe and the Western world of music were immersed in an extraordinary production of great classical music. At this time, Italian composer Maria Luigi Carlo Zenobio Salvatore Cherubini (1740-1842) was in Paris struggling to gain a position of respect in the music world.  It would take another 15 years before he would gain prominence. This is not to say, however, that his music was not well received or considered excellent. Political swayings of the day played havoc on many composers. His operas in this period were often social statements over the current geopolitical climate. “Les Deux Journées” was one such opera in this genre called “escape” opera, in which the hero escapes political persecution — popular yet peripheral at the time.

Les Deux Journées (The Water Carrier) gained immediate acceptance upon its premiere in 1800, but the grand opera houses werre closed to Cherubini at the time, limiting the opera’s exposure. The overture has remained in the concert hall though. Mendelssohn wrote in 1834 that “the first three bars are worth more than our entire repertoire.”   [. . .]