Death of a Little Girl with Doves

Death of a Little Girl with Doves is an operatic soliloquy based on the life and letters of the French sculptor Camille Claudel (1864-1943). Claudel was an accomplished and celebrated sculptor in late-19th century Paris, where she was known as the talented and original young apprentice to Auguste Rodin. In addition to her own powerful work, Claudel assisted on many of Rodin’s most famous sculptures, including his “La Porte d’enfer” (The Gates of Hell). Claudel and the much-older Rodin became lovers, and their breakup precipitated Claudel’s mental and physical collapse. After ten years of intense creative activity, in 1913, she was committed to the psychiatric hospital at Ville-Évrard against her will. Claudel died in 1943, after thirty years of seclusion, in the asylum of Montdevergues, near Avignon. Hers is a story of Art, love, innocence betrayed, and the tragedy of a young woman’s persecution for being imaginative and independent during a time when such characteristics were viewed as inappropriate and dangerous for women.

Death of a Little Girl with Doves is in two parts, subtitled “In Paris” and “In the Asylum.” Each of these two parts is then also divided into two movements. The music and text often move rapidly through different moods and time frames, reflecting the instability of Claudel’s life, and its ultimate dissolution.

This video is of the West coast premiere 10 May 2024 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with Rayna Mia Campbell, soprano, and the San Francisco Ballet and Conservatory Orchestra, Martin West, conductor.