Music: Joan in Manhattan

Swiss Composer Arthur Honegger had successfully set to music everything from Greek legends (Antigone) to steam engines (Pacific 231) and sports (Rugby). Then he bit off a chunk that many a musical better—Verdi, Gounod and Tchaikovsky, among others—had broken a tooth on. He began work on an oratorio on Joan of Arc. French Poet (and onetime Ambassador to the U.S.) Paul Claudel provided a mystical, introspective text.

Last week, the U.S. got its first chance to hear Honegger's giant-sized theatrical score. It ran for 75 minutes with no intermission, and put a considerable...

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