Herculanum premiered at the Paris Opera on March 4, 1859 and is considered one of the last compositions written in the grand style of French opera often associated with Fromental Halévy and Giacomo Meyerbeer. Opera in France would change forever in 1861 when the Paris version of Tannhäuser at the Paris Opéra. France had also experienced a decade of some of Verdi's most popular operas, including Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata.
Nicolas Courjal sings Lothario's aria from Thomas' Mignon:
Located in the Roman antiquity, the opera shows the downfall of a regime and the demise of the city of Herculaneum as God's vengeance for the decadence of this time. Davids Herculanum was a spectacular success, a mixture of music, mass scenes, lavish decorations, revolutionary spirit and ballet. And it had a final scene that left the Parisian audience whooping with delight: The explosive eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, that famously buried Herculaneum.
Nicolas Courjal can next be heard as the King in Lalo's Le roi d'Ys the Opera de Marseilles from May 10-18.