This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations . (February 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny (17 October 1729 – 14 January 1817) was a French composer and a member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts (1813).
He is considered alongside André Grétry and François-André Danican Philidor to have been the founder of a new musical genre, the opéra comique, laying a path for other French composers such as François-Adrien Boieldieu, Daniel-François-Esprit Auber, Charles Gounod, Georges Bizet, and Jules Massenet in this genre.
Paul Dukas is quoted as saying, "Of all the composers of our country, he may be the first who had the gift of true, human emotion, of communicative expression and of fair feeling"[ citation needed ].
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny was born at Fauquembergues, near Saint-Omer, in the former Artois region of France (now Pas-de-Calais), four months before the marriage of his parents, Marie-Antoinette Dufresne and Nicolas Monsigny.
He was educated at the Walloon Collége des Jésuites in Saint-Omer. It was here that he first discovered his aptitude for music.
As the eldest child, in 1749, a few months after his father's death, he left for Paris with only a few coins in his pocket, a violin and a recommendation letter, in an attempt to further his musical career and provide for his siblings. He entered into the service of the connoisseur of art and the theater, Louis Guillaume Baillet de Saint-Julien, in the bureau of the Comptabilité du Clergé de France. In 1752, after watching a performance of La serva padrona by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi at the Paris Opera, he decided upon his true vocation. He then became Pietro Gianotti's student, and a contra-bassist at the Paris Opéra.
Secretly, with a text by La Ribardière, he wrote Les aveux indiscrets, his first comic opera, which premiered at the theater of the Foire St Germain in February 1759. This work was well received, and that encouraged him to compose a second opera, in two acts, on a libretto by Pierre-René Lemonnier. Le maître en droit, the following year, received the same positive public response. Michel-Jean Sedaine, a well-liked librettist, proposed to Monsigny a collaboration, following Le cadi dupé's success. Their common production was excellent: On ne s'avise jamais de tout, Le roi et le fermier and Rose et Colas. On 15 April 1766, at the Académie royale de Musique, his epic ballet in three acts Aline, reine de Golconde was not as successful as expected. The critics were harsher two years later, with L'île sonnante. The music, it is true, preserves its usual grace of Monsigny's touch. However, Charles Collé's libretto happened to be ill-adapted to the stage and justified the work's lack of success.
It is during this same year of 1768 that the composer purchased the post of maître d'hôtel in the service of the great courtier Louis Philippe I, Duke of Orléans. A place in the entourage of this patron proved favorable to Monsigny's inspiration. Michel-Jean Sedaine submitted his libretto, Le déserteur , for which he composed his most successful score. Yet Le faucon, created in 1771 was a failure. On 17 August 1775, La belle Arsène caused controversy among critics.
In 1777, following the success of Félix, ou L'enfant trouvé, Monsigny stopped composing. At the beginning of 1784, he married Amélie de Villemagne, with whom he lived peacefully until 1789. The French Revolution and The Terror deprived them of all their material existence. The musician and his family sank into deep misery and oblivion for a few years. Hearing of the composer's state of poverty, the members of the Opéra-Comique gave him a pension of 2400 pounds, in order to prove their gratitude to one of the founders of their theater.
The years of adversity came to an end and Monsigny reached once again his deserved success. He became inspector of teaching at the Conservatoire de Musique de Paris. In 1804, he received the title of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. In 1813, he succeeded Grétry at the Institute. Total blindness afflicted his last years. Monsigny died in Paris.
See List of operas by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny .
André Ernest Modeste Grétry was a composer from the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, who worked from 1767 onwards in France and took French nationality. He is most famous for his opéras comiques.
The Opéra-Comique is a Paris 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.
Michel-Jean Sedaine was a French dramatist and librettist, especially noted for his librettos for opéras comiques, in which he took an important and influential role in the advancement of the genre from the period of Charles-Simon Favart to the beginning of the Revolution.
Opéra comique is a genre of French opera that contains spoken dialogue and arias. It emerged from the popular opéras comiques en vaudevilles of the Fair Theatres of St Germain and St Laurent, which combined existing popular tunes with spoken sections. Associated with the Paris theatre of the same name, opéra comique is not always comic or light in nature; Carmen, perhaps the most famous opéra comique, is a tragedy.
Le déserteur is an opéra comique by the French composer Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny with a libretto by Michel-Jean Sedaine. It was first performed on 6 March 1769 by the Comédie-Italienne at their public theatre, the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris.
Guillaume Tell is an opéra comique, described as a drame mise en musique, in three acts by André Grétry, The French text was by Michel-Jean Sedaine based on a play of the same name by Antoine-Marin Lemierre.
Pierre le Grand is an opéra comique by André Grétry. The libretto, by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly, is based on the early life of the Russian tsar Peter the Great. It was first performed in Paris on January 13, 1790, with Louise-Rosalie Lefebvre, known as Madame Dugazon, as Catherine.
Aucassin et Nicolette, ou Les moeurs du bon vieux tems is a French opéra comique by André Grétry. It takes the form of a comédie mise en musique in four acts. The work was first performed by the Comédie-Italienne at the Palace of Versailles on 30 December 1779 and subsequently at the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris on 3 January 1780. It was also revived in 1782 in a version reduced to three acts.
Louis Anseaume was a French playwright and librettist.
Nicolas-François Guillard was a French librettist. He was born in Chartres and died in Paris, the recipient of a government pension in recognition of his work writing librettos. He was also on Comité de Lecture of the Paris Opéra. One of the foremost of the French librettist of his generation, he wrote libretti for many noted composers of the day, including Salieri and in particular Sacchini. His most famous work is Iphigénie en Tauride, his first libretto, set by Gluck after the composer had initially rejected it. Gluck collaborated with Guillard to heavily recast the libretto, not only to suit Gluck's artistic preferences, but also to accommodate pre-existing music that Gluck borrowed, both from himself and from other composers, when composing the opera.
Jean-Blaise Martin, full name Nicolas Jean-Blaise Martin was a French opera singer whose tessitura lay between tenor and baritone, which became later known as "baryton-martin".
Jean Elleviou was a French operatic tenor, one of the most celebrated French singers of his time.
L'école de la jeunesse ou Le Barnevelt françois is an opéra comique in three acts by the composer Egidio Duni. The libretto, by Louis Anseaume, is based on George Lillo's play The London Merchant or The History of George Barnwell (1731). The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique, Paris on 24 January 1765.
Jean-Pierre Solié was a French cellist and operatic singer. He began as a tenor, but switched and became well known as a baritone. He sang most often at the Paris Opéra-Comique. He also became a prolific composer, writing primarily one-act comic operas.
Blaise le savetier is a 1759 one-act opéra comique, by the French composer François-André Danican Philidor. The libretto was by Michel-Jean Sedaine, after a story by Jean de La Fontaine entitled Conte d'une chose arrivée à Château-Thierry.
Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne or Moyne was a French composer, chiefly of operas.
Silvain is a one-act opéra-comique by André Grétry with a libretto by Jean-François Marmontel. It was first performed at the Comédie-Italienne on 19 February 1770 and was one of Grétry's biggest early successes. The plot concerns Silvain, who works as a poor farmer after being disinherited by his rich father for marrying a lower-class woman. The pastoral theme and its celebration of rural life was common in opéra-comique of the time but Marmontel's libretto goes much further in advocating social equality and defending the rights of peasants against the encroachment of landowners.
Charles-Guillaume Alexandre was a French classical violinist and composer.
Le roi et le fermier is a 1762 opéra-comique ei 3 acts by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny to a libretto by Michel-Jean Sedaine.
Aline, reine de Golconde is an opera (ballet-héroïque) in three acts by Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny to a libretto by Michel-Jean Sedaine based on a story by Stanislas-Jean de Boufflers. It was first performed in the Salle des Machines in Paris on 15 April 1766.