Music: Movie Music

The shelves of possible Bellini and Donizetti operas must be getting bare; the new trend in vehicles for the box office sopranos may well be little-known French operas. Along with one fragile masterpiece, Manon, Jules Massenet wrote several operas that fit this description. After 87 years, one of them, Esclarmonde, has just made its Metropolitan Opera debut as a vehicle for Joan Sutherland. The title character is a Byzantine Empress with magical powers, and after hearing the music, one can only wish that she had used her sorcery to summon up a different...