Personalities | François-Adrien Boieldieu | Early Romantic | Opera
François-Adrien Boieldieu wrote his first opera, La fille coupable (‘The Guilty Girl’, 1793), when he was 18. Shortly afterwards, he left his home town of Rouen and settled in Paris. He scored quick success with his opéras comiques, but his talent did not stop at the standard ingredients of the genre. He was also capable of writing, for example, the exotically oriental Le calife de Bagdad (‘The Caliph of Baghdad’, 1800). After five years as court composer in St Petersburg, Boieldieu returned to France in 1812, where his Jean de Paris (‘John of Paris’, 1812) was admired by Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) for the ‘freedom and elegance of his vocal line … and … his careful and excellent use of the orchestra.’ Boieldieu’s masterpiece, La dame blanche (‘The White Lady’, 1825), was judged one of the most important French Romantic operas written in the 1820s. By this time Boieldieu had spent the last 10 years as court composer to King Louis XVIII, who was restored to the throne after the downfall of Napoleon in 1815. However, his career effectively ended with the revolution of 1830, which swept away the old Bourbon monarchy – and everyone, even musicians, who had served it.
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