In any case, it is the most important woman’s role in The Huguenots, the good [proper] execution of which the success of the work depends upon in great part. The theaters that cannot provide two strong female singers, would do well to diminish the role of Maguerite (Queen of Navarre) by omitting the greater part of her second act aria, as I have designated on the score for such cases…”
Meyerbeer, born into a wealthy, German-Jewish family was the most prominent among his talented brothers. Though he enjoyed a rich musical education, success came only after he left Germany. “While in Italy Meyerbeer met the foremost artists, won the interest of leading librettists and impresarios and was more successful as an opera composer than he had ever hoped,” (The New Grove Dictionary). In 1831, the Paris Opéra debuted his five-act opera Robert le diable, based on a libretto by Eugéne Scribe and Germain Delavigne. It is considered one of the first grand operas staged in Paris and its popularity led to productions throughout Europe, and even in French-speaking New Orleans. Meyerbeer’s international reputation grew with the popularity of his Les Huguenots in 1836 and Le prophète in 1849.
French soprano Cornélie Falcon (1814-1897) made her debut in Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable in 1832 after which she sang the role of Amélie, Countess Ankastrom in Daniel Auber’s 1833 grand opera Gustave III, and starred as Rachel the “Jewess,” in Fromenthal Halèvy’s grand opera La Juive in 1835, roles both mentioned in our letter. But it was her performance as Valentine opposite Belgian soprano Julie Dorus-Gras as Marguerite de Valois in the 1936 Paris premiere of Les Huguenots that made her career. Interestingly, Les Huguenots is thematically like La Juive, which premiered the prior year. Both operas, written in a post-revolution France in which the July Monarchy had liberalized religious freedom, explored ideas of religious tolerance.
Folded and creased with a few scattered stains, otherwise very fine.