Daniel Auber

Daniel François Esprit Auber (French: [danjɛl fʁɑ̃swa ɛspʁi obɛːʁ]; 29 January 1782 – 12/13 May 1871) was a French composer.

Daniel Auber
D-F-E Auber
Daniel François Esprit Auber

29 January 1782
Caen, France
Died12 May 1871 (aged 89)
Paris, France
Daniel-François-Esprit Auber by Nadar
Daniel François Esprit Auber, circa 1860s, by Nadar

Personal life

The son of a Paris print-seller, Auber was born in Caen in Normandy. Though his father expected him to continue in the print-selling business, he also allowed his son to learn how to play several musical instruments. His first teacher was the Tirolean composer, Josef Alois Ladurner. At the age of 20 Auber was sent to London for business training, but he was obliged to leave England in 1804 when the Treaty of Amiens was breached.

Daniel FE Auber
Daniel François Esprit Auber


Auber had already attempted musical composition, and at this period produced several concertos pour basse, modelled after the violoncellist Lamare, in whose name they were published. The praise given to his concerto for the violin, which was played at the Paris Conservatoire by Mazas, encouraged him to undertake a resetting of an old comic opera, Julie (1811). He also began to study with the renowned Luigi Cherubini.[1]

In 1813 the unfavourable reception of his one-act debut opera Le Séjour militaire put an end for some years to his attempts as composer. But his failure in business, and the death of his father in 1819, compelled him once more to turn to music. He produced another opera, Le Testament et les billets-doux (1819), which was no better received than the former. But he persevered, and the next year was rewarded by the complete success of La Bergère châtelaine, an opera in three acts.[1]

This was the first in a long series of brilliant successes. In 1822 began his long association with librettist Eugène Scribe. Their first opera, Leicester, shows evidence of the influence of Gioachino Rossini in its musical style. Auber soon developed his own voice, however: light, vivacious, graceful, and melodious—characteristically French.[1] Le maçon (1825) was his first major triumph, staying in the repertory until the 20th century, with 525 performances at the Opéra-Comique alone. An ensemble from the latter found its way into Herold's ballet La Somnambule (source of Bellini's La sonnambula) as an air parlante (a way of explicating the plot through the words of a relevant operatic aria or salon piece).

D.F.E. Auber (Boston Public Library)
Portrait of D.F.E. Auber from sheet music for Lestocq (Boston: William H. Oakes, 19th century)

Auber achieved another triumph in La muette de Portici, also known as Masaniello after its hero. Produced in Paris in 1828, it rapidly became a European favourite, and the foundation work of a new genre, grand opera, that was consolidated by Rossini's Guillaume Tell the following year. Its characteristic features are a private drama staged in the context of a significant historical event in which the chorus is dramatically engaged as a representative of the people, varied and piquant musical textures, grandiloquent marches, spectacular scenic effects and a statutory ballet. The duet from La Muette, Amour sacré de la patrie (meaning "Sacred Love of the Homeland"), was welcomed as a new Marseillaise;[1] its performance at Brussels on 25 August 1830, in which the great tenor Adolphe Nourrit sang the leading tenor role, engendered a riot that became the signal for the Belgian Revolution that drove out the Dutch. La Muette broke ground also in its use of a ballerina in a leading role (the eponymous mute), and includes long passages of mime music.

Official and other dignities testified to the public appreciation of Auber's works. In 1829 he was elected a member of the Institut de France. Fra Diavolo,which premiered on 28 January 1830, was his most successful opera. That same year, 1830, he was named director of the court concerts. Next year, on 20 June 1831, he had another big success, with Le Philtre, starring Adolphe Nourrit. The libretto was translated into Italian and set by Donizetti as L'elisir d'amore, one of the most successful comic operas of all time.

Two years later, on 27 February 1833, Gustave III, his second grand opera, also triumphed and stayed in the repertory for years. The libretto was to be used twice more, first by Saverio Mercadante for Il reggente, with the action transferred to Scotland, and, next by Giuseppe Verdi, as Un ballo in maschera, with the action transferred to Massachusetts. He enjoyed several more successes, all at the Opéra-Comique. These were Le cheval de bronze (1835), L'Ambassadrice (1836), Le domino noir (1837), Les diamants de la couronne (1841) and La part du diable (1843).

Postcard-1910 Daniel Fransois Auber
Daniel François Esprit Auber (1869)

In the meantime, in 1842, at the wish of King Louis Philippe, he succeeded Cherubini as director of the Conservatoire. Auber was also a member of the Legion of Honour from 1825, and attained the rank of commander in 1847.[1] That year also saw the premiere of Haydée, another opéra comique, even though it was on a serious subject. The tenor lead in Haydée was sung by the same Gustave-Hippolyte Roger who, two years later, created the title role in Giacomo Meyerbeer's Le prophète at the Opéra. Napoleon III made Auber his Imperial Maître de Chapelle in 1857.[1]

In his later years, Auber's output slowed down considerably. The 1850s were marked by Manon Lescaut, an opéra comique with a tragic end (1856), and revisions of Le cheval de bronze and Fra Diavolo (both 1857). He had one major success in the 1860s: Le premier jour de bonheur (Opéra comique, 1868). Despite his slowdown in composing, he remained a well-loved figure, known for witty sayings and personal generosity. He survived the German siege of Paris in 1870–71, but died during the upheaval of the Paris Commune on 12 or 13 May 1871.

Today, the rue Auber leads up to the original Paris Opera House (Palais Garnier) and the nearest RER station is called Auber.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Auber, Daniel François Esprit" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 889.

External links

Fra Diavolo (opera)

Fra Diavolo, ou L'hôtellerie de Terracine (Fra Diavolo, or The Inn of Terracina) is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer Daniel Auber, from a libretto by Auber's regular collaborator Eugène Scribe. It is loosely based on the life of the Itrani guerrilla leader Michele Pezza, active in southern Italy in the period 1800-1806, who went under the name of Fra Diavolo ("Brother Devil").

The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Ventadour in Paris on 28 January 1830 and an Italian version was prepared by Auber and Scribe for performance in London in 1857. This contained new recitatives and arias, as well as expanding the roles of Fra Diavolo's accomplices.

The opera was Auber's greatest success, one of the most popular works of the 19th century and was in the standard repertory in its original French as well as German and Italian versions. An English translation was also prepared. Hugh Macdonald has characterised this comic opera as "the most successful work of its kind before Offenbach".

Gustave III (Auber)

Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué (Gustavus III, or The Masked Ball) is an opéra historique or grand opera in five acts by Daniel Auber, with a libretto by Eugène Scribe.

Haydée, ou Le secret

Haydée, ou Le secret is an opéra comique by the French composer Daniel Auber, first performed by the Théâtre Royal de l'Opéra-Comique at the Salle Favart in Paris on 28 December 1847. The libretto (in three acts) is by Auber's regular collaborator, Eugène Scribe and is based on a short story by Prosper Mérimée, La Partie de trictrac (1830).

The opera was performed regularly by the Opéra-Comique up to the end of the 19th century, achieving over 520 performances there.


L'ambassadrice is an opera or opéra comique in 3 acts by composer Daniel Auber. The work's French language libretto was written by Eugène Scribe and Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges. The opera's world premiere was staged by the Opéra-Comique at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris on 21 December 1836. It was revived in Paris on 4 January 2013 by the opera company Les Frivolités Parisiennes at the initiative of two research fellows who specialized in nineteenth-century historically informed performance, Pierre Girod (vocal coach) and Charlotte Loriot (stage director).

L'enfant prodigue (Auber)

L'enfant prodigue (The Prodigal Son) is a grand opera in five acts composed by Daniel Auber to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke. It was first performed at the Théâtre de l'Académie Nationale de Musique in Paris on 6 December 1850. The role of Azaël (the prodigal son of the title) was sung in the premiere by the celebrated French tenor, Gustave-Hippolyte Roger, (1815-1879).

The ballet music was used by Constant Lambert in 1933 for the ballet Les Rendezvous with choreography by Frederick Ashton.

La circassienne

La circassienne (The Circassian Woman) is an opera (opéra comique) in three acts composed by Daniel Auber to a French-language libretto by Eugène Scribe based on Louvet de Couvrai's 1787 novel Une année de la vie du chevalier de Faublas. It was premiered on 2 February 1861 by the Opéra-Comique at the second Salle Favart in Paris. Set in Russia during the Russian-Circassian War, the opera was also known under the titles Morte d'amour (Died of Love), La révolte au Sérail (The Revolt in the Seraglio), Alexis, and Faublas.

La muette de Portici

La muette de Portici (The Mute Girl of Portici, or The Mute Girl of Portici), also called Masaniello (Italian pronunciation: [mazaˈnjɛllo]) in some versions, is an opera in five acts by Daniel Auber, with a libretto by Germain Delavigne, revised by Eugène Scribe.

The work has an important place in music history as the earliest French grand opera. It is also known for its role in the Belgian Revolution of 1830.

La part du diable

La part du diable ("The Devil's share" also known by the English title Carlo Broschi) is an opéra comique by Daniel Auber to a libretto by Eugène Scribe, loosely based on an incident from the life of the singer Farinelli. It premiered at the Opéra-Comique on 16 January 1843. The original production starred Sophie Anne Thillon and Celeste Darcier alternating in the role of Casilda.

La sirène

La sirène is an opéra comique in 3 acts by Daniel Auber to a libretto by Eugène Scribe, premiered 26 March 1844.

Le cheval de bronze

Le cheval de bronze (The Bronze Horse) is an opéra comique by the French composer Daniel Auber, first performed on 23 March 1835 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse in Paris. The libretto (in three acts) is by Auber's regular collaborator, Eugène Scribe and the piece was a great success in its day. In 1857, it was transformed into an opera-ballet, but this did not hold the stage. The overture is one of Auber's most popular. The first-act finale expands on the final phrases from the first-act finale of Mozart's Così fan tutte. The composer tried to reflect the Chinese setting of the story in the music.

Le domino noir

Le domino noir (The Black Domino) is an opéra comique by the French composer Daniel Auber, first performed on 2 December 1837 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse in Paris. The libretto to the three-act piece is by Auber's usual collaborator, Eugène Scribe. It was one of Auber's most successful works, clocking up 1,207 performances by 1909. It received its UK premiere in 1838 and appeared in the USA the following year. Some of Auber's music has a Spanish flavour to reflect its setting.

In 1869, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky provided recitatives to replace the spoken dialogue for a proposed production of Le domino noir by an Italian opera company visiting Russia. No performances are believed to have taken place, but four of Tchaikovsky's recitatives were included in Richard Bonynge's recording of the opera.

Le lac des fées

Le lac des fées (The Fairy Lake) is a grand opera in five acts composed by Daniel Auber to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe and Mélesville (the pen name of Anne-Honoré-Joseph Duveyrier). The story is set in the Harz Mountains and based on a German ballad. The opera was premiered by the Paris Opera at the Salle Le Peletier on 1 April 1839.

Le maçon

Le maçon (French for The Mason) is an opéra comique (comic opera) in three acts by Daniel Auber to a libretto by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne. It premiered at the Opéra-Comique Salle Feydeau in Paris on 3 May 1825.Among the original cast was the tenor Antoine Ponchard.It was to become Auber's first enduring success.

Le premier jour de bonheur

Le premier jour de bonheur is an opera or opéra comique in 3 acts by composer Daniel Auber. The French language libretto by Adolphe d'Ennery and Eugène Cormon is based on Joseph François Souque's Le chevalier de Canolle. The work's premiere was staged by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Favart theatre on 15 February 1868.The opera is set in Madras at the end of the 18th century, with a mixture of sentimental elegance and precious sensibility amid a picturesque story bearing resemblances to Léo Delibes’s Lakmé: the Indian setting, a military officer – one French, the other English – and a priestess – Djelma, Lakmé.The scenario was proposed to Auber around 1865 by Victorien Sardou, and was first announced for production in September 1866 under another title. The rôle of Hélène was intended as the debut of a brilliant student of Eugénie Garcia, but a court ruling in January 1868 following a case brought by her parents delayed her debut until the following year. In view of this cast change, the role of Hélène was modified. A highpoint of the work is the 'song of the Djinns' for Djelma which became immediately popular, although it was only inserted by the composer at the last minute (possibly a rejected number from Le cheval de bronze of thirty years previously).

It was hoped to premiere the piece on 27 January (to celebrate the composer’s birthday) but as there was some orchestration outstanding, it was delayed.Le premier jour de bonheur was at first a good financial success for the Salle Favart, achieving 175 performances before dropping out of the repertoire by the end of the century.Johann Strauss II wrote a quadrille on themes from the opera as his opus 327.

Les Rendezvous

Les Rendezvous is a plotless one-act ballet created in 1933, with choreography by Frederick Ashton to the music of Daniel Auber (the ballet music from his opera L'enfant prodigue) arranged by Constant Lambert and with designs by William Chappell. It was the first major ballet created by Ashton for the Vic-Wells company.It was first performed on Tuesday, 5 December 1933 by Vic-Wells Ballet at Sadler's Wells Theatre, with Alicia Markova and Stanislas Idzikowsky in the lead roles; these were later taken by Margot Fonteyn and Robert Helpmann. The choreography was revised in 1934 and the work was performed every season up to 1945, then from 1959 to 1963, when it used the set by Sophie Fedorovitch for Act 1 of La Traviata. It was revived in 1984 by Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet to celebrate Ashton’s 80th birthday, and by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in 2000 with updated sets. The ballet has also been produced by companies in Norway, the US and Japan.

It was filmed for television in 1962 with Doreen Wells, Brian Shaw, and Merle Park, Petrus Brosnan and Graham Usher in the pas de trois.

Les Rendezvous was Ashton’s "first substantial classical composition and an exultant statement of his idiosyncratic approach to academic ballet." It consists of a succession of light-hearted dances in a park, where friends meet and socialise.

The ballet was designed to show off the brilliance and style of Markova and the elevation and technical skill of Idzikowsky.Order of numbers:

Entrée des Promeneurs (company)

Pas de quatre: (four girls)

Male Variation

Adage des Amoureux (two leads)

Pas de trois (girl and two boys)

Female Variation

Pas de six: (six boys)

Sortie des Promeneurs (company)

Les diamants de la couronne

Les diamants de la couronne (The Crown Diamonds) is an opéra comique by the French composer Daniel Auber, first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the second Salle Favart in Paris on 6 March 1841. The libretto (in three acts) is by Auber's regular collaborator, Eugène Scribe with the help of Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges.

List of operas by Daniel Auber

This is a list of the complete operas of the French composer Daniel François Esprit Auber (1782–1871).

Auber wrote 31 opéras comiques, 7 opéras, 3 drames lyriques, and one each of works designated as comédie, comédie mêlée de chant, intermède, opéra féerie, opéra historique, scène lyrique and scène-prologue. All were premiered in Paris, except Jean de Couvain, which was premiered in Chimay (now in Belgium), and La fête de Versailles, which was premiered in Versailles.

Manon Lescaut (Auber)

Manon Lescaut is an opera or opéra comique in 3 acts by Daniel Auber to a libretto by Eugène Scribe, and, like Puccini's Manon Lescaut and Massenet's Manon, is based on the Abbé Prévost's novel Manon Lescaut (1731). Auber's version is nowadays the least-performed of the three.

Opéra féerie

Opéra féerie (plural: opéras féeries) is a French genre of opera or opéra-ballet, often with elements of magic in their stories. Popular in the 18th century, from the time of Jean-Philippe Rameau onwards, the form reached its culmination with works such as La belle au bois dormant by Michele Carafa and Cendrillon by Nicolas Isouard at the beginning of the 19th century.

Examples of the genre include:

Zémire et Azor (1771), music by André Grétry

Cendrillon (1810) and Aladin ou la Lampe merveilleuse (1822), music by Nicolas Isouard, libretti by Charles-Guillaume Étienne

Zirphile et fleur de myrte ou cent ans en un jour (1818), music by Charles-Simon Catel, libretto by Victor-Joseph Étienne de Jouy and Nicolas Lefebvre

Le cheval de bronze (1835), music by Daniel Auber

La fée aux roses (1849), libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Eugène Scribe, music by Fromental Halévy, Paris, Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique

La chatte blanche (1852) by the Frères Cogniard

Les amours du diable (1853), by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, music by Albert Grisar, Paris, Théâtre Lyrique

Le roi Carotte (1872) and Le voyage dans la lune (1875), music by Jacques Offenbach (the latter in collaboration with Victorien Sardou)

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