Autograph letter signed "F Halévy" to "Mon cher Directeur."
by HALÉVY, Jacques-François-Fromental 1799-1862
This letter was most probably written between 1836 and 1840, when Nau and Dupont were both active at the Paris Opéra. The recipient could have been one of three directors of the Opéra during this period: Henri Duponchel, director from 1835-June 1840; Édouard Monnais, co-director from November 1839-June 1840; or (less likely), Léon Pillet, co-director from June 1840-1847. "Mr. Lafont" could perhaps refer to the noted French violinist and singer Charles Philippe Lafont (1781-1839).Maria Nau (1818-1891) "entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1832 to study with Laure Cinti-Damoreau and made her début in 1836, creating Urbain in Les Huguenots. She earned a good reputation in minor roles at the Opéra between 1836 and 1842, numbering Rossini among her mentors. Her career reached its pinnacle in 1840 with Halévy's Le drapier... Charles Hervey (The Theatres of Paris, Paris, 1846) praised her voice as ‘a high soprano of peculiar sweetness and extraordinary flexibility ... in vocalisation ... surpassed by Mme Persiani alone'." Laurie Shulman in Grove Music Online.Alexis Dupont (1796-1874) "was engaged by the Opéra-Comique from 1821 to 1823, making his début as Azor in Grétry's Zémire et Azor. Following a trip to Italy for further vocal training, he sang at the Opéra in 1826 as Pylades in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride; for the next 14 years he enjoyed great success there. Auber composed the role of Alphonse in La muette de Portici for him. Dupont sang in the premières of Rossini's Guillaume Tell and Halévy's La Juive, and in the infamous Castil-Blaze revival of Don Giovanni (1834). According to Charles Hervey (The Theatres of Paris, Paris, 1846), his ‘sweet but delicate' voice suffered against the power of the Opéra orchestra. He retired from opera in 1840, but continued to sing in public until 1856." Laurie Shulman in Grove Music Online.A French composer, teacher and writer on music, Halévy was a pupil of both Cherubini and Méhul. His pupils at the Conservatoire included Gounod, Bizet, Lecocq and Saint-Saëns. Of Jewish parentage, his first serious grand opera, La Juive, became the greatest success of his career. "Wagner held Halévy's work in high esteem (especially La Juive and La reine de Chypre) and drew attention to his sense of period achieved without recourse to mock-antique devices: ‘For my part' he wrote, ‘I have never heard dramatic music which has transported me so completely to a particular historical epoch'." Hugh Macdonald in Grove Music Online.. 1 page. Octavo (ca. 135 x 105 mm). Dated Friday, April 21. On ivory paper laid down to light yellow paper mount, ca. 183 x 130 mm. In French (with translation).On behalf of a certain Mr. Lafont, Halévy asks the director, presumably of the Paris Opéra, to lend Lafont two singers, the American soprano Maria Nau and the French tenor Alexis Dupont."My Dear Director, since you have refused to let Mr. Lafont have the artists I asked of you for him, would you let him have just Miss Nau and Alexis Dupont? I beg your pardon... but it is impossible for me to refuse to be an advocate with you for an artist such as Mr. Lafont... If you would be willing to consent to my requent, Mr. Lafont will write you.Slightly worn; minor creasing at folds and blank upper margin; minor staining from adhesive to corners, not affecting text; very slight loss to lower right corner, not affecting text. (Inventory #: 26815)
Musical Autographs and Manuscripts; Rare Books on Music and Dance; First and Early Editions of Printed Music; Prints, Drawings and Ephemera relating to Music and Dance including Opera and Ballet.
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