3 pp. of a bifolium. 12mo. Dated Neuilly, Sunday, March 3 [1867?]. In black ink on personal stationery with embossed monogram printed in green at head. In French (with translation).
An interesting letter in which Belval mentions no fewer than three important composers (Giuseppe Verdi, Félicien David, Hector Berlioz), three singers associated with the Paris Opéra (Louis-Henri Obin, Armand Castelmary, and Pauline Guéymard-Lauters), and the premiere of a new Verdi opera. Because Belval had the flu, he was unable to sing Bertram in a recent performance of Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable; Castelmary, a bass "of the third rank," had to replace him. Belval will sing Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots the following day. He has also asked Guéymard-Lauters to secure two seats for his correspondent for the first performance of Verdi's opera, because he has heard, via Obin, that the composer does not want a public dress rehearsal. Finally, he wishes to enlist the expertise of David and Berlioz regarding some musical matter.
"My friend Obin told me in effect that Verdi did not wish to hear talk of a dress rehearsal before the public, even a chosen one. But it has been twelve years that I have heard the same alarms with regard to every new opera. Therefore do not despair yet... I have asked Madame Gueymard to get herself signed up for two numbered seats at the theatre for the first performance. They are intended for you, in case the public is not admitted to the dress rehearsal... In principal, the choice of two composers as experts would only reassure me by half, if I had not myself influenced Mr. Félicien David to decide to accept the task, and if in time Mr. Berlioz, to whom I recounted the affair, did not agree with me. Obin went to speak to them both; he could enlighten them much better than I about the disproportion of the two roles... "
Slightly worn; creased at folds.
Belval, a French bass, "studied at the Paris Conservatoire and made his début in 1846 at Antwerp. After singing in Toulouse, Lyons, the Hague, Ghent and Brussels, he was engaged at the Paris Opéra, making his début in 1855 as Marcel in Les Huguenots. His roles included Bertram (Robert le diable), Balthazar (La favorite), Walter Furst (Guillaume Tell) and Zaccharie (Le prophéte). He took part in many premiéres and created Gargantua in Labarre’s Pantagruel (1855), the Count of Poitou in Halévy’s La magicienne (1858), Soloman in Gounod’s La reine de Saba (1862), Archbishop Turpin in Mermet’s Roland à Roncevaux (1864), Don Pédro in L’Africaine (1865) and King Claudius in Thomas’ Hamlet (1868)... he made his last appearance at the Opéra in 1875 as Cardinal Brogni in La Juive, at the public inauguration of the Palais Garnier... His voice was a deep bass, ample in size and dark in tone." Elizabeth Forbes in Grove online.
The Verdi opera to which Belval refers is probably Don Carlos, which premiered at the Paris Opéra on March 11, 1867. Louis-Henri Obin, Pauline Guéymard-Lauters, and Armand Castelmary created, respectively, the roles of Philip II, Eboli, and the monk (Charles V) for the first performance. Item #24096
Price: $550.00 other currencies