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Scarce ALS to Jules Barbier: “You must admit this is an extremely comical idea! As for me, I might die from laughing!”

$2400 net
Item: 22470
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BIZET, GEORGES. (1838-1875). French composer whose masterpiece, Carmen, is arguably one of the most popular operas ever written. ALS. (“Georges Bizet”). 2½pp. 8vo. N.p., N.d. (To JULES BARBIER, 1825-1901; librettist for Bizet’s mentor Charles Gounod). In French with translation.

“It is not so much my noble and superb beard that holds me back, dear friend – but at this moment I am really unable to take part in any entertainment, it would probably even be impossible for me to memorize two lines by heart – I am in a time of crisis! – I am sorry to refuse you or rather to refuse myself this pleasure, but, truly, there is no reason for me to refuse, and yet it is impossible for me to accept – why would you not have the role played by [in very large letters] Choudens!!!!

You must admit this is an extremely comical idea! As for me, I might die from laughing!

Choudens performing in a comedy, and as a woman! Sir [?] this inspiration is sent from heaven!

Finally, I hope you will find it easy to replace me, or better yet, if on Thursday you have not found your man, or your woman, as you wish, I will certainly find among my friends a witty and kind boy who will be delighted to make your acquaintance and take an active part in your party –

See you, Thursday, dear friend, and yours with all my heart…”

Bizet portrait

Georges Bizet

Bizet’s musical talent was recognized early, and by age eight he was already an accomplished sight singer. Two weeks before his tenth birthday, Bizet entered the Paris Conservatoire, to begin his instruction under the great pianist Pierre Zimmerman. “But Zimmerman’s health was bad, and his place was often taken by his son-in-law [French composer Charles] Gounod, who took an immediate liking to the young Bizet and offered him the chance to earn money by arranging many of his works,” (The New Grove Dictionary). Bizet and Gounod’s relationship was such that in 1862 Bizet assisted Gounod during rehearsals for his La reine de Saba, the libretto for which was by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier, our letter’s recipient. Barbier collaborated with Gounod on Faust, Romeo and Julliette and Mignon.

At the Conservatoire, Bizet won several awards, and “his exceptional powers are apparent in some of his early compositions,” the first of which were written at age twelve, (ibid.). Later, “with the ardour and enthusiasm of youth still unshadowed… he wrote his masterpiece Carmen,” (Britannica). First premiered in 1875, Carmen’s realism caused a scandal, but inaugurated “ a new chapter in the history of opera,” (ibid.).

Antoine de Choudens (1825-1888) founded the eponymous French firm Éditions Choudens, which published much notable 19th-century music, including works of Berlioz, Gounod’s Faust and Bizet’s Carmen. Despite his “time of crisis,” Bizet conveys his youthful enthusiasm and joie de vivre in our jovial letter.

Boldly penned and signed; very fine. Bizet, who died at the age of 36, is scarce.

Scarce ALS to Jules Barbier: “You must admit this is an extremely comical idea! As for me, I might die from laughing!”

$2400 net • item #22470

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