Personalities | Eugène Scribe | Early Romantic | Opera
Eugène Scribe, the French librettist, scored his first success with Auber’s opéra comique La dame blanche (‘The White Lady’, 1825). However, Scribe concentrated mainly on French grand opéra, with libretti that matched the genre’s visual and musical grandeur and the dramatic on-stage action. Scribe formed a partnership with Auber, who set no less than 38 of his libretti to music. The central figures of French grand opéra, such as Halévy and Meyerbeer also recognized in Scribe an artist whose verse was capable of equalling the ‘size’ of their music. A situation in which composer and librettist ‘thought big’ was essential in grand opéra for which Scribe drew his plots from history at its most dramatic: he specialized in the clash of religions, as in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, or in political and national rivalries in which real life was entwined with the fate of characters caught up in epoch-making events.
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