Hervé (French pronunciation: [ɛʁve] ), real name Louis Auguste Florimond Ronger, (30 June 1825 – 4 November 1892) was a French singer, composer, librettist, conductor and scene painter, whom Ernest Newman, following Reynaldo Hahn, credited with inventing the genre of operetta in Paris.
Hervé was born in Houdain near Arras. Part Spanish by birth, he became a choirboy at the Church of Saint-Roch, Paris. His musical promise was noted, and he was enrolled in the Conservatoire and studied with Daniel Auber, and by the age of fifteen was serving as organist at Bicêtre Hospital and a stage vocalist in provincial theatres, where he trained his fine tenor voice. He won a competition in 1845 for the prestigious Paris post of organist at the Church of Saint-Eustache, while he doubled with his theatrical music career, a situation that he turned to advantage years later, in his most famous work, Mam'zelle Nitouche .
Before he became musical director of the Théâtre du Palais Royal in 1851, he composed a one-act tableau grotesque, a burlesque on Don Quixote titled Don Quichotte et Sancho Pança . It was conceived as a vehicle for the actor Desiré, who was short and plump, accompanied by the tall and gangling Hervé, as he was now calling himself, in order to distance his two personas. It was staged at Adolphe Adam's Opéra-National, and achieved a great success in 1848, in spite of the distracting revolution: furthermore, according to the composer Reynaldo Hahn, the farcical pot-pourri was "simply the first French operetta".He had also composed musical entertainments to keep the patients entertained at the Bicêtre Hospital, and these gained the notice of producers.
Thus Hervé was the founder of a new era of French operettas. Through his Folies-Concertantes, a small theater stage he took over in 1854 and for which he wrote many works, he became the forerunner of the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens of Jacques Offenbach, whose early efforts he produced at his theatre, renovated as the Folies-Nouvelles. Many of Hervé's early one act pieces are topical skits satirizing current events and were never revived. The restrictive license of the Folies-Concertantes permitted only spectacles-concerts, with no more than two characters, in a single act, stringencies imposed on Offenbach as well, but which encouraged Hervé to experiment with genres, before more flexible rules were established in the following decade. A jealous rivalry soon developed between Hervé and Offenbach, which was only patched up in 1878, when Hervé sang in a revival of Offenbach's Orphée aux enfers . He died in Paris. Since 2015, a number of his works have been revived by Palazzetto Bru Zane in tours of France and Italy.
Hervé wrote more than a hundred and twenty operettas,among which were:
Operetta is a form of theatre and a genre of light opera, light in terms of both music and subject matter. It includes spoken dialogue, songs, and dances. "Operetta" is the Italian diminutive of "opera" and was used originally to describe a shorter, perhaps less ambitious work than an opera. Operetta became a recognizable form in the mid-1800s in France, and its popularity led to the development of many national styles of operetta. Operetta as a genre lost favor in the 1930s and gave way to modern musical theatre. Important operetta composers include Johann Strauss, Jacques Offenbach and Franz Lehar.
Henri Meilhac was a French dramatist and opera librettist, best known for his collaborations with Ludovic Halévy on Georges Bizet's Carmen and on the works of Jacques Offenbach, as well as Jules Massenet's Manon.
Alexandre Charles Lecocq was a French composer, known for his opérettes and opéras comiques. He became the most prominent successor to Jacques Offenbach in this sphere, and enjoyed considerable success in the 1870s and early 1880s, before the changing musical fashions of the late 19th century made his style of composition less popular. His few serious works include the opera Plutus (1886), which was not a success, and the ballet Le cygne (1899). His only piece to survive in the regular modern operatic repertory is his 1872 opéra comique La fille de Madame Angot. Others of his more than forty stage works receive occasional revivals.
Mam'zelle Nitouche is a vaudeville-opérette in three acts by Hervé. The libretto is by Henri Meilhac and Albert Millaud. This story of a respectable musician, transforming himself into a songwriter at night, is partly inspired by the life of the composer of the piece Hervé, who as Florimond Ronger, his real name, was the organist at the important church of Saint-Eustache, Paris by day and wrote the music for and starred in satirical, irreverent operettas under a stage name at night.
The Théâtre des Variétés is a theatre and "salle de spectacles" at 7–8, boulevard Montmartre, 2nd arrondissement, in Paris. It was declared a monument historique in 1975.
Anne Marie-Louise Damiens, stage name Anna Judic was a French comic actress.
Juliette-Joséphine Simon-Girard was a French soprano, principally in operetta. Her father, Philippe Lockroy, was an actor at the Comédie Française, and her mother was Caroline Girard, of the Opéra-Comique.
Édouard-Théodore Nicole, known as Léonce, was a 19th-century French actor and singer.
Émilie Mily Meyer, stage name 'Mily-Meyer' was a French soprano, born 1852 in Paris, died there in 1927, who for a quarter of a century became a major star of the Parisian operetta stage, and is described by Gänzl as "impishly boyish yet obviously feminine soubrette".
Désiré was a French baritone, who is particularly remembered for creating many comic roles in the works of the French operetta composer Jacques Offenbach. Désiré was a stage name; the artist's real name was Amable Courtecuisse, but for most of his life he was generally known as Désiré.
Christian Perrin, known by his stage-name Christian, was a French actor and singer in operetta, born in Paris, 1 January 1821, and died there in December 1889. He had a long and successful career in Paris from the 1850s up to his death.
The Théâtre des Folies-Marigny, a former Parisian theatre with a capacity of only 300 spectators, was built in 1848 by the City of Paris for a magician named Lacaze and was originally known as the Salle Lacaze. It was located at the east end of the Carré Marigny of the Champs-Élysées, close to the Avenue Marigny, but faced west toward the Cirque National on the other side of the square.
Albert Millaud was a French journalist, writer and stage author, born in Paris, 13 January 1844, and died in the same city on 23 October 1892.
Alfred Duru was a 19th-century French playwright and operetta librettist who collaborated on more than 40 librettos for the leading French composers of operetta: Hervé, Offenbach, Lecocq and Audran.
Fabrice Carré or Carré-Labrousse, real name Jules Fabrice, was a 19th-century French playwright, and librettist. The dramatist Fabrice Labrousse (1806-1876) was his grandson.
Les Chevaliers de la table ronde is an operetta by Hervé to a libretto by Henri Chivot and Alfred Duru. The work had its first performance in 1866 at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens. It was the composer's first attempt at a full-length opéra bouffe. The burlesque plot is barely connected with Arthurian legend but rather presents a fantasy vision of an magical age of chivalry. Hervé and his librettists created a rich ensemble piece with a large number of supporting roles including four ludicrous knights and parts for women including Mélusine, Totoche and Angélique who parody the stereotypical "female" traits of sensuality, love, jealousy and greed. In contrast, Merlin, Rodomont, and Roland portray a watered-down version of knightly derring-do.
Marcel Auguste Antoine Cariven, was a French conductor, particularly associated with light music and with operetta.
Anna Van Ghell was a Belgian singer who starred in numerous operettas in Paris. She was called Anna Vanghel or Vanghell in France.
L'œil crevé is an opéra bouffe with libretto and music by Hervé, first produced in Paris on 12 October 1867 at the Théâtre des Folies-Dramatiques.
Ô mon bel inconnu is a 1933 comédie musicale by Reynaldo Hahn with libretto by Sacha Guitry with whom he had earlier written Mozart). A studio recording with the Orchestre Régional Avignon-Provence and Samuel Jean is scheduled for September 2019.
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