4 pp. of a bifolium. Small octavo. Dated Monday evening, December 5 [between 1883 and 1891]. On ivory paper with black borders. In French (with translation).
Having returned to Paris, Delibes is anxious for news of the second run of his opera, Lakmé. Because his correspondent's letter was delivered to the wrong address, he has had to seek information elsewhere. Unfortunately another audience member has told him that the tenor and "basse chantante" have weak voices. Delibes suggests they replace the latter with a certain "Monsieur Schmidt" in order to increase ticket sales. In January, he and his correspondent will discuss his opera, Le Roi l'a dit, which premiered at the Opéra-Comique on May 24, 1873.
"Unfortunately a more recent letter...tells me that our tenor is always weak, as well as the 'basse chantante' [i.e. high lyric bass], and that the whole weight of the performance rests on Madame [Alice?] Verheyden, who alone has some success in the work. (I add that these reports do not come from her husband!)"
Slightly soiled and foxed; creased at folds.
"[Delibes's] workmanship was of the highest order; he had a natural gift for harmonic dexterity and a sure sense of orchestral colour, and nothing in his music is out of place. He was a disciplined composer, and it is tempting to see in the exquisite pastiche dances that he composed in 1882 for Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse not just a sharp ear for style but a genuine feeling for the world of 17th-century French classicism, later to be espoused with such ardour by Saint-Saëns, d’Indy and Debussy." Hugh Macdonald in Grove Music Online.
Lakmé is considered the composer's masterpiece. It offers more than just a fine vehicle for a star soprano; the two principal male characters, Nilakantha and Gérald, are firmly drawn, and the music is melodic, picturesque and theatrically strong. The opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique (Salle Favart) in Paris on April 14, 1883.
Delibes's correspondent, Miral, was perhaps the director of the Théâtre Municipal de Nancy. If this is the case, it is quite likely that the production mentioned in this letter took place there.
Price: $650.00 other currencies