2 pp. Quarto. Dated Paris, April 7, 18[5?]6. In brown ink. In French (with translation).
Gilbert Duprez invites the Comte de Morny and the members of the Commission Supérieur to a final performance of his opera, Samson, which will feature famed singer Pauline Viardot. He hopes his correspondent, who has indulgently welcomed a past request to see his work, will come and even intercede with the other members of the commission.
"I have the honor of informing your Excellence that, hastened by the imminent departure of Madame Viardot, it is no longer possible for me to profit from her talent except until next Sunday. In agreement with Mr. Crosnier, to whom this day seemed agreeable, he must have the honor of officially inviting the gentlemen members of the Commission Supérieur to come listen one last time to my opera Samson, which will be performed in the hall of my singing school, 11 Turgot Street, Sunday, April 13, at one o'clock."
Creased at folds and upper corners; short tears to central fold; light foxing to upper left edge; minor annotations in pencil and black ink to blank left margin of recto.
A noted French tenor and composer, "[Duprez] gradually... became the first great tenore di forza, despite a vocal tessitura limited in its lower range... In France he was praised as the first true Romantic tenor and for his excellent declamation and the smoothness of his canto spianato... Presumably through forcing his voice, and also because of the great number of performances he gave during his years in Italy where he had to sing as many as six times a week, a decline set in early; Berlioz greatly admired him in the vigorous music of Benvenuto Cellini in 1838, though noting (Mémoires) that his voice had coarsened somewhat. The story of the famous tenor’s rise and fall in Berlioz’s Les soirées de l’orchestre is largely based on Duprez’s career. He composed a number of operas and his writings include L’art du chant (1845) and Souvenirs d’un chanteur (1880), a valuable account of his times and distinguished contemporaries." Sandro Corti in Grove Music Online.
The first three acts of Samson were first performed on March 13, 1855; the fourth was premièred on March 16, 1856, several days before this letter is dated. With the help of Alexandre Dumas, père, the composer's brother, Édouard, wrote the libretto. Gilbert Duprez recounts the genesis of the opera, originally conceived as an oratorio, in his Souvenirs. François Rahier, "Samson," in Alexandre Dumas: Deux Siècles de Littérature Vivante," 2012.
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