Opera inspires publicity

Opera inspires publicity

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Title: Asrael. Belisarius.

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Technique and other indications: Asrael. Opera by Franchetti.Bélisaire. Opera by Donizetti. Liebig advertising card.

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © MuCEM, Dist RMN-Grand Palais / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Picture reference: 07-537222 / 60.22.372.474 A

© MuCEM, Dist RMN-Grand Palais / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Publication date: November 2010

Historical context

Production and marketing strategies in the industrial age

The rise of industry in the second half of the 19th centurye century goes hand in hand with advances and innovations that revolutionize lifestyles, especially eating habits. It was only later, from 1890, that this method was copied by other companies such as the Suchard chocolate factory.

Image Analysis

The Middle Ages at the service of cooking

The image shows the main characters of two operas, to the left that of ’Asrael of Franchetti, on the right that of Belisarius by Donizetti. Extremely colorful and enriched with gilding, it illustrates the idealized vision that the XIXe century has the Middle Ages at the same time as the public enthusiasm for this period. Asrael, with his feathered hat, jagged cape and leotard, as much as the fort visible behind him represent the medieval West, while the architectural style of the palace where the warrior Belisarius is located evokes the Byzantine Empire. Declining elements of the characters' costumes, the banners that surmount them further enhance the desired atmosphere. In the center in the foreground appears a box of Liebig Meat Extract. Usually, the reverse side contains the advertising material, along with a description of the image. The accompanying text, here in French, could also be written in other languages, notably German, Italian and Spanish.


Advertising and the opera

The last third of the XIXe is an era of democratization for opera in France, as evidenced by the creation of a "Popular Opera" as well as the reduced price performances established by the great opera stages. The popular classes' infatuation for this art form soon aroused the interest of companies, anxious to make their products widely known. This is, to a certain extent, what leads Liebig to base this claim on Asrael, opera by Franchetti created in 1888 and still in vogue in 1893. Its association with Belisarius, an opera which premiered in 1843, may seem more surprising, but it is explained by the desire to constitute an alphabetical series of male heroes.

  • opera
  • publicity
  • theater
  • Middle Ages


Lorenz DETLEF, Fleischextrakt und gros Oper: die Reklame-Sammelbilder der Liebig-Gesellschaft zu Oper, Operette und Ballett, Berlin, Lorenz Detlef, 1992. Michel HAU, Economic history of Germany, 19th-20th century, Paris, Economica, 1994.Christiane LAMBERTY, Reklame in Deutschland 1890-1914, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 2000.Philippe OLIVIER, Wagner, a practical manual for the use of music lovers, Paris, Hermann Editors, 2007.

To cite this article

Stella ROLLET, "Opera inspires publicity"

Video: Shoppers in Leeds are completely surprised by this incredible performance!


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