Berlioz's final opera, Béatrice et Bénédict (1860–62) has generally been considered a light-hearted work, revelling in the simple joys of love. Yet his final development of the theme of love, which had preoccupied him at least since the Symphonie fantastique (1830), makes this opéra comique more serious than it might appear to be. Drawing on theories of the human subject by Badiou, Žižek, and Lacan, as well as on the resources of Schenkerian theory, this article invites a new attention on the ideological violence done both by conventional models of love (in this case, on the main characters in the opera) and by the language of tonality. Evaluation of the musical means by which Berlioz psychoanalyzes the characters of a masochist, Héro, and a hysteric, Béatrice, ultimately reveals a surprisingly provocative work of vivid psychological drama.
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