Maurice Ravel's operas L'Heure espagnole (1907/1911) and L'Enfant et les sortilèges (1919–25) are pivotal works in the composer's relatively small œuvre. Emerging from periods shaped by very distinct musical concerns and historical circumstances, these two vastly different works nevertheless share qualities that reveal the heart of Ravel's compositional aesthetic. In this comprehensive study, Emily Kilpatrick unites musical, literary, biographical and cultural perspectives to shed new light on Ravel's operas. In documenting the operas' history, setting them within the cultural canvas of their creation and pursuing diverse strands of analytical and thematic exploration, Kilpatrick reveals crucial aspects of the composer's working life: his approach to creative collaboration, his responsiveness to cultural, aesthetic and musical debate, and the centrality of language and literature in his compositional practice. The first study of its kind, this book is an invaluable resource for students, specialists, opera-goers and devotees of French music.