Autograph letter signed in full to an unidentified male correspondent regarding the production of his opera Bolivar. Darius MILHAUD.

Autograph letter signed in full to an unidentified male correspondent regarding the production of his opera Bolivar

1 page. Large octavo. Dated Mills College, Oakland, California, September 9, 1943. In French (with translation).

Milhaud asks his correspondent if he is still interested in mounting a production of his opera Bolivar. The composer would like to meet him in New York to show him the score.

"When I had the pleasure of seeing you last December, you seemed interested in the possibility of producing my opera Bolivar. My score is finished. I intend to come to New York in December to show it to you."

Slightly worn and soiled; creased at folds; small staple holes to upper left edge; small ink stain to verso.

Together with:
- A typed cast list. 1 page. Large octavo. On onion skin. In French. With autograph annotations in English in black ink describing the relative importance of each character. Slightly worn and creased; small staple holes to upper left margin.

- A typed list of scenes describing the important events in Bolivar's life. 1 page. Large octavo. On onion skin. In English. A brief biography of Jules Supervielle, author of the play upon which the opera is based, is given at the head. With autograph annotations in English describing the décor of each scene in black ink to left margin. Slightly worn and creased; edges slightly browned; several small staple holes to upper left margin.

Completed in 1943 during his American exile, Bolivar premièred at the Opéra de Paris seven years later, on May 12, 1950. As this and other letters indicate, Milhaud had originally composed his opera to suit American tastes, and "worked hard to convince American opera houses to take it on." In April 1944 he wrote to music librarian Harold Spivacke: "I played my opera Bolivar to the Metropolitan. They seemed (as Lily Pons told me) very interested, but they do not have the money to produce it." Fauser: Sounds of War Music in the United States during World War II, pp. 194-195.) It therefore seems likely that this letter was addressed to Edward Johnson, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera from 1935 until 1950.

"... the subject of Bolivar suited me admirably because I wanted a libretto full of action, with a masculine hero. Moreover, the central idea of the play was that of liberation and freedom, which in 1943 occupied my every thought... In May 1950 the Paris Opéra put on my Bolivar... The Opéra's best singers took part: Jeannine Micheau, Hélène Bouvier, Roger Bourdin, and Giraudeau. The production by Max de Rieux was superb, and Fernard Léger's ten sets again attested to his great theatrical artistry..." Milhaud: Notes without Music An Autobiography, pp. 301 and 314.

Milhaud "was associated with the avant garde of the 1920s, whose abundant production reflects all musical genres. A pioneer in the use of percussion, polytonality, jazz and aleatory techniques, his music allies lyricism with often complex harmonies. Though his sources of inspiration were many and varied, his music has compelling stylistic unity." Jeremy Drake in Grove Music Online.

An interesting assemblage of documents relating to this war-time work. Item #23359

Price: $700.00  other currencies

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