Gounod “Funeral March of a Marionette”

I haven’t vanished in an alpine crevasse, I’ve simply been busy singing! The business has been part rehearsals, part teaching, and part working on some things for the future.

The rehearsals have led me to a small musical discovery, in fact. We have been working up Gounod’s Faust, and as I hung about on the side of the stage waiting for an entrance, I heard some very familiar music in the Walpurgisnacht scene. What was that? It sounded like the theme music to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, his successful 1950s television series.

Well, to make a long story short, it was. Or rather, it was a fragment of music which Gounod later expanded into a piano work called Marche funèbre d’une marionette. It’s this version which was then used on the television show.

Oddly, however, I haven’t found a version of the opera online which uses this music. There are other versions of the Walpurgisnacht scene, with a solo for Mephistopheles and/or long ballet music (those French operas all had extended ballets which are cut these days. It saves money in avoiding orchestra overtime and not having to hire dancers.) The version we are doing contains a section of men’s chorus which begins with “Un, deux et trois”, and that’s where the pertinant music is found.

 

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