La Juive was one of the most popular and admired operas of the 19th century.
Because of the story of an impossible love between a Christian man and a Jewish woman, the work has been seen by some as a plea for religious tolerance, in much the same spirit as Nathan the Wise, which premiered in 1779, Giacomo Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots which premiered in 1836, a year after La Juive, as well as the 1819 novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott which deals with the same theme. At the time of composition, the July Monarchy had liberalised religious practices in France. Meyerbeer and Fromental Halévy were both Jewish, and storylines dealing with topics of tolerance were common in their operas. Reviews of the initial performances show that journalists of the period responded to the liberalism and to the perceived anti-clericalism of Scribe's text rather than to any specifically Jewish theme.
Some believe that the libretto of La Juive was designed to provoke audiences to reassess the status of Jews in French society. Others believe that the clichéd portrayal of the Jew Eléazar as secretive, vengeful and materialistic does not bear out this interpretation.
Rachel - Julia Varady
Eleazar - Jose Carreras
Leopold - Dalmacio Gonzales
Cardinal - Ferruccio Furlanetto
Antonio De Almeida - conductor
Phillips CD - 1989