François-Louis Henry

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Henri as Aboul-y-far in Le caid , 1849 Costume design for Aboul-y-Far in Le Caid by Thomas (1849) - Gallica (adjusted).jpg
Henri as Aboul-y-far in Le caïd , 1849

François-Louis(-Ferdinand) Henry (12 May 1786 – 22 February 1855) was a French baritone, who sang for about 35 years with the Opéra-Comique in Paris, where he created numerous leading roles. His stage name was Henri (or Henry). [1] He has also been referred to as François-Louis Deshayes. [2]

A baritone is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the bass and the tenor voice types. Originally from the Greek βαρύτονος (barýtonos), meaning heavy sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C (i.e. F2–F4) in choral music, and from the second A below middle C to the A above middle C (A2 to A4) in operatic music, but can be extended at either end. The baritone voice type is generally divided into the baryton-Martin baritone (light baritone), lyric baritone, Kavalierbariton, Verdi baritone, dramatic baritone, baryton-noble baritone, and the bass-baritone.

Opéra-Comique opera company in Paris

The Opéra-Comique is a Parisian opera company, which was founded around 1714 by some of the popular theatres of the Parisian fairs. In 1762 the company was merged with, and for a time took the name of its chief rival the Comédie-Italienne at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and was also called the Théâtre-Italien up to about 1793, when it again became most commonly known as the Opéra-Comique. Today the company's official name is Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique, and its theatre, with a capacity of around 1,248 seats, sometimes referred to as the Salle Favart, is located in Place Boïeldieu, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Palais Garnier, one of the theatres of the Paris Opéra. The musicians and others associated with the Opéra-Comique have made important contributions to operatic history and tradition in France, and to French opera. Its current mission is to reconnect with its history, and discover its unique repertoire, to ensure production and dissemination of operas for the wider public. Mainstays of the repertory at the Opéra-Comique during its history have included the following works which have each been performed more than 1,000 times by the company: Cavalleria Rusticana, Le chalet, La dame blanche, Le domino noir, La fille du régiment, Lakmé, Manon, Mignon, Les noces de Jeannette, Le pré aux clercs, Tosca, La bohème, Werther and Carmen, the last having been performed more than 2,500 times.


Birth and identity

He was born in Versailles with the family name of Deshayes. Relatively little is known about his life, and during his career at the Opéra-Comique he was only identified as Henry or Henri. However, it is as good as certain that he is identical with François-Louis Henry, who attended, and later taught at, the Conservatoire de Paris. [1]

Conservatoire de Paris music school

The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795 associated with PSL Research University. It is situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France. The Conservatoire offers instruction in music, dance, and drama, drawing on the traditions of the "French School".

Paris Conservatory

Henry first attended the conservatory as a supernumerary, beginning on 13 May 1803. He became a coach (répétiteur) without pay on 23 May 1808 and professor of singing preparation (préparation au chant) on 1 July, again without pay. [3] He was a student of Charles Simon Catel, a professor of harmony, and won a second prize in harmony in 1810. [4]

On 1 April 1816 Henry was appointed to a paid position as professor of vocalization (vocalisation). [3] Among his students were Julie Dorus (c.1821) and Cornélie Falcon (c.1827–1828), who both later became leading sopranos at the Paris Opera. [5] He became a professor of singing (chant) for a two-year trial (prior to 9 June 1835) and received his permanent position as professor of singing on 1 January 1837. He retired on 15 November 1842. [3]

Cornélie Falcon French soprano

Cornélie Falcon was a French soprano who sang at the Opéra in Paris. Her greatest success was creating the role of Valentine in Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots. She possessed "a full, resonant voice" with a distinctive dark timbre and was an exceptional actress. Based on the roles written for her voice her vocal range spanned from low A-flat to high D, 2.5 octaves. She and the tenor Adolphe Nourrit are credited with being primarily responsible for raising artistic standards at the Opéra, and the roles in which she excelled came to be known as "falcon soprano" parts. She had an exceptionally short career, essentially ending about five years after her debut, when at the age of 23 she lost her voice during a performance of Niedermeyer's Stradella.

Paris Opera the primary opera company of France

The Paris Opera is the primary opera and ballet company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d'Opéra, and shortly thereafter was placed under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Lully and officially renamed the Académie Royale de Musique, but continued to be known more simply as the Opéra. Classical ballet as it is known today arose within the Paris Opera as the Paris Opera Ballet and has remained an integral and important part of the company. Currently called the Opéra National de Paris, it mainly produces operas at its modern 2700-seat theatre Opéra Bastille which opened in 1989, and ballets and some classical operas at the older 1970-seat Palais Garnier which opened in 1875. Small scale and contemporary works are also staged in the 500-seat Amphitheatre under the Opéra Bastille.


Henri as Sulpice (1840) and Juliette Borghese as Marie in Donizetti's La fille du regiment Roles de Melle Borghese et Henri dans la Fille du Regiment (Chronique des Theatres, 1840 - Gallica (adjusted)).jpg
Henri as Sulpice (1840) and Juliette Borghèse as Marie in Donizetti's La fille du régiment

The first record of Henry having sung at the Opéra-Comique is on 29 June 1813 in the premiere of Boieldieu's opera Le nouveau seigneur de village. The singer's most noteworthy creations there included Gaveston in Boieldieu's La dame blanche (1825) and Sergeant Sulpice in Donizetti's La fille du régiment (1840). He also sang at the premiere of George Onslow's opera Le duc de Guise . He continued to appear regularly with the company until 1849. [1]

François-Adrien Boieldieu French composer

François-Adrien Boieldieu was a French composer, mainly of operas, often called "the French Mozart".

<i>La dame blanche</i> opéra comique

La dame blanche is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer François-Adrien Boieldieu. The libretto was written by Eugène Scribe and is based on episodes from no fewer than five works of the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, including his novels The Monastery, Guy Mannering, and The Abbot. The opera has typical elements of the Romantic in its Gothic mode, including an exotic Scottish locale, a lost heir, a mysterious castle, a hidden fortune, and a ghost, in this case benevolent. The work was one of the first attempts to introduce the fantastic into opera and is a model for works such as Giacomo Meyerbeer's Robert le diable and Charles Gounod's Faust. The opera's musical style also heavily influenced later operas like Lucia di Lammermoor, I puritani and La jolie fille de Perth.

<i>La fille du régiment</i> Opéra-comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti

La fille du régiment is an opéra comique in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti, set to a French libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard. It was first performed on 11 February 1840 by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse.

On 6 December 1846 Henry sang Brander in the premiere of Berlioz's La damnation de Faust , a concert performance at the Opéra-Comique conducted by the composer. He also sang the role under Berlioz on 15 March 1847 at the Mikhaylovsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, 18 April 1847 at the Maly Theatre in Moscow, and 10 June 1847 at the Neues Königliches Schauspielhaus in Berlin. [6]

<i>La damnation de Faust</i> opera

La damnation de Faust, Op. 24 is a work for four solo voices, full seven-part chorus, large children's chorus and orchestra by the French composer Hector Berlioz. He called it a "légende dramatique". It was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 6 December 1846.

Maly Theatre (Moscow) theatre in Moscow, Russia

Maly Theatre is a theatre in Moscow, Russia, principally associated with the production of plays. Established in 1806 and operating on its present site on the Theatre Square since 1824, the theatre traces its history to the Moscow University drama company, established in 1756. In the 19th century, Maly was "universally recognized in Russia as the leading dramatic theatre of the century", and was the home stage for Mikhail Shchepkin and Maria Yermolova. 40 of Alexander Ostrovsky's 54 plays premiered at Maly, and the theatre was known as The House of Ostrovsky. The Maly Theatre in Moscow and Alexandrinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg "to a great extent determined the development of Russian theatre during the 19th and 20th century".

Konzerthaus Berlin

The Konzerthaus Berlin is a concert hall situated on the Gendarmenmarkt square in the central Mitte district of Berlin housing the German orchestra Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Built as a theatre from 1818 to 1821 under the name of the Schauspielhaus Berlin, later also known as the Theater am Gendarmenmarkt and Komödie, its usage changed to a concert hall after the Second World War and its name changed to its present one in 1994.

After about 1845 Henry was also active as a stage director at the Opéra-Comique. [1] His stagings included the premieres of Halévy's 3-act Les mosquetaires de la reine on 3 February 1846, Xavier Boisselot's 3-act Ne touchez pas à la reine! on 16 January 1847, Halévy's 3-act Le val d'Andorre on 11 November 1848, and Armand Limnander's 3-act Les Monténégrins on 31 March 1849. [6] [7]

Henry's farewell performance was in 1850 (after his official retirement), when he performed Fortunatus in Auber's L'ambassadrice . [1]

He died in Paris. [3]

Roles created

Lord HudsonLeicester [1] [9]
Rica [1] [10]
Gaveston [1] [11]
Marie [1] [12]
Mathéo Fra Diavolo [1]
corsaire [6]
GolofkinLestocq ou L'intrigue et l'amour [13]
FariboliniCosimo ou le peintre badigeonneur [14]
Gilbert [1]
Biju [15]
Larchant Guise ou les états de Blois [16]
négociantLequel? ou Le fils et orphelin [6]
Pierre-le-Grand [17]
Maître BirminstelMarguerite [6] [19]
Sergeant Toby [20]
John Porter [21]
3rd Neapolitan [6]
Bambolino BamboliniPolichinelle [6]
Sheriff Turner [6] [22]
Sergeant Sulpice [1] [6]
Rebolledo [1]
MarcelinCamille ou le souterrain (revival) [23] [24]
Doctor Magnus [6] [25]
Babylas [6] [26]
Mugnoz [1] [27]
Sheriff Bolbury [6] [28]
John-Bred [1] [6] [29]
TomassiCagliostro [1] [6] [30]
Bolbaya [1]
Shepherd [6]
Major Krifkraffen [6] [31]
Goulard [32]
Lord CatesbyGibby la cornemuse [6] [33]
Grand Syndic [6] [34]
Aboul-y-far [1] [35]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Kutsch & Riemens 2003, pp. 2038–2039.
  2. data - B.N.F..
  3. 1 2 3 4 Pierre 1900, p. 446 in Personnel administratif et enseignant (Administrative and teaching personnel).
  4. Pierre 1900, p. 521, Liste des prix accordés dans le cours d'études de 1810 / École de Musique (List of prizes awarded in the course of study of 1810 / School of Music). This entry reverses his first names, listing him as "HENRY (Louis-François)", and he is also listed as Henry (Louis-François)" on p. 773, Dictionnaire des Lauréats (Dictionary of Prize Winners), where the dates of birth and death are identical to those for "Henry* (François-Louis)" in the entry on p. 446. For Catel, see p. 439.
  5. Pitou 1990, p. 381 ("Dorus-Gras, Julie Aimée Josephe"); Warrack and West 1992, p. 230 ("Falcon, Cornélie").
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Casaglia 2005.
  7. Wild & Charlton 2005, pp. 336–337, 339, 436.
  8. Kutsch & Riemens 2003, p. 2038. These authors give the date of the premiere of La fête du village voisin as 8 March 1816. Wild & Charlton 2005, p. 254, give the date as 5 March 1816, as does the libretto at Google Books.
  9. Leicester, libretto at Google Books.
  10. Le maçon: Kutsch & Riemens 2003, p. 2038, give Henry's role as Rica; the libretto at Google Books lists M. Alphonse in this role and does not otherwise mention Henry.
  11. La dame blanche, libretto at Google Books.
  12. Marie: the libretto at Gallica does not list Henry.
  13. Lestocq ou L'intrigue et l'amour Notice de spectacle at BnF. Libretto at Google Books.
  14. Cosimo ou le peintre badigeonneur Notice de spectacle at Bnf.
  15. Le postillon de Lonjumeau, libretto at Google Books.
  16. Guise ou les états de Blois, Notice de spectacle at BnF.
  17. Le perruquier de la Régence, Notice de spectacle at BnF.
  18. Son of François-Adrien Boieldieu
  19. Marguerite libretto at Gallica. Only 8 un-orchestrated measures were by Boildieu père (Wild & Charlton 2005, p. 319).
  20. Le brasseur de Preston, Notice de spectacle at BnF.
  21. Lady Melvil, ou Le joaillier de Saint-James (created at the Théâtre de la Renaissance at the Salle Ventadour), libretto at Google Books.
  22. Le shérif, Notice de spectacle at BnF.
  23. Camille ou le souterrain was premiered by the Théâtre Feydeau on 19 March 1791.
  24. Camille ou le souterrain, Notice de spectacle at BnF.
  25. La jeunesse de Charles-Quint, libretto at Google Books.
  26. Le diable à l'école, libretto at Google Books.
  27. Le duc d'Olonne, Notice de spectacle at BnF.
  28. Le puits d'amour, libretto at Google Books.
  29. Lambert Simnel, libretto at Google Books.
  30. Cagliostro, libretto at Google Books.
  31. Le ménétrier ou Les deux duchesses, libretto at Google Books.
  32. Le trompette de Monsieur le Prince, Notice de spectacle at BnF. Casaglia 2005 lists Henri as Brassac.
  33. Gibby la cornemuse, libretto at Google Books.
  34. Le val d'Andorre, libretto at Google Books.
  35. Le caïd, libretto at Google Books.


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