Personalities | Henri Meilhac | High Romantic | Opera

1831–97, French

Henri Meilhac, the French dramatist and librettist, wrote most of his texts for operas in collaboration with other writers. Meilhac’s most renowned partnership, which began after a chance meeting outside a Paris theatre in 1860, was with Ludovic Halévy. They produced libretti for Bizet, Léo Delibes (1836–91) and most famously for Offenbach. Meilhac and Halévy had great talent for depicting and satirizing the foibles and shortcomings of human nature. The Meilhac-Halévy libretto for Bizet’s dramatic and tragic Carmen was something of a departure for them, since their forte lay in operetta. The genre gave them plenty of chances to make fun of ancient myths and parody some of the more stuffy conventions of opera. Meilhac collaborated with Albert Millaud (1844–92) on the libretto for Mlle Nitouche (1882) by Hervé (Florimond Ronger) (1825–92) and with Philippe-Emile-François Gille (1831–1901) for Manon (1884) by Massenet.

Introduction | High Romantic | Opera
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