- Berlin, January 6, 61
2 pp. of a bifolium. Octavo. On ivory stationery with Meyerbeer's monogram embossed at head. In French (with translation).
Meyerbeer has not yet received the manuscript of Mignon, as stated in a previous letter written to Carré. When he reads the poem, he will tell him whether or not he likes it. Although he would very much like to collaborate with Carré, he has reservations about signing a contract to produce the work next year, at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris.
"... I believe it is my duty to tell you that, as for me, it is not my habit to sign a contract or to make decisions about a work I have not yet begun. Therefore, since you need to be assured by the theater that a time has been fixed for a performance and since I cannot agree [with this plan], it would therefore be just that I grant you full liberty to dispose of your poem [as you wish], regardless of my great regret at losing your valuable collaboration in the dramatization of this beautiful work of Goethe, about which I have dreamed for so long..." Translation by Patrick J. Smith.
Lightly creased with multiple tears along folds, slightly affecting text; some staining from two tape repairs to first leaf, somewhat affecting text. In delicate condition, but clearly executed and boldly signed.
- Berlin, January 26, 61.
3 pp. of a bifolium. Octavo. On ivory stationery with Meyerbeer's monogram embossed at head. With original autograph envelope, ca. 55 x 143 mm., postmarked Berlin and Valenciennes January 26 and 28, 64 with Carré's Paris address to recto and four fully intact red wax seals with Meyerbeer's initials to verso. In French (with translation). Detached at central fold; slightly creased; two small tears to blank lower margin of first page; second leaf laid down to ivory cardboard mount; envelope slightly worn and soiled.
The manuscript of Mignon finally arrived about a week ago – along with an unfortunate letter from fellow librettist Jules Barbier. Convinced that Meyerbeer does not like the new adaptation of Mignon, Barbier demands that he return it. Meyerbeer is astonished; Barbier should have learned that he has only just received the work, and has barely had the opportunity to read it, let alone disapprove of it. Nevertheless, he is sending the manuscript tomorrow morning. In fact, Meyerbeer thinks rather highly of the work as a whole.
"... [Barbier] tells me that he has no doubt that my opinion of the new adaptation of Mignon must be unfavorable, because, according to him, I kept it so long without arriving at a decision... I wanted to let you know, dear M. Carré, of the situation so that you understand that this return [of the manuscript] was demanded of me and that I did not make it of my own accord. There are very felicitious changes in your refashioning; there are, above all, verses of exquisite poetry; on the other hand, there are other changes of which I do not approve and which seem to me unfortunate: a part of my objections is a reflection of my own point of view; but in general, it is a very poetic and very touchinig work, charming in detail throughout, which does you the greatest honor..." Translation by Patrick J. Smith.
Two significant letters from the collection of the noted American writer Patrick J. Smith (1932-).
When Meyerbeer wrote these letters, he was, "as usual... involved in several projects at once, and one of these was for incidental music to a play of Blaze de Bury, Le Jeunesse de Goethe (1860; 1862). The play was never performed and the music is lost, but Meyebeer set various Goethe texts and scenes, in particular from Faust and [the Mignon episodes from] Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. Whether this effort was known to [Carré and Barbier,] the librettists of [Meyerbeer's opera] Dinorah, and whether that knowledge had any bearing on [these letters]... is unknown." Patrick J. Smith: "Two Meyerbeer Letters." In Words on Music: Essays in Honor of Andrew Porter on the Occasion of His 75th Birthday, pp. 320-325.
Known as "The Father of Grand Opera," Meyerbeer was "the most frequently performed opera composer during the 19th century, linking Mozart and Wagner." Matthias Brzoska in Grove Music Online. Item #25759
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