Personalities | Michael Balfe | Early Romantic | Classical
Balfe was the most successful composer of English operas of the nineteenth century. The Irish-born Balfe made his name as a singer with a fine baritone voice, and sang in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Paris, as well as taking leading roles in Italy until 1833. His reputation as a composer began in London with The Siege of Rochelle (1835). Balfe went on to compose operas for the Italian Opera (Falstaff, 1838) and the Opéra-Comique in Paris (Le puits d’amour, 1843), each of which gained him much renown. All these successes were eclipsed, however, by the huge popularity of The Bohemian Girl (1843). Although other contemporary English composers were more convincing dramatists, Balfe’s skill was as a melodist, particularly as a writer of affectingly simple ballads.
The Bohemian Girl, soloists, National SO of Ireland (cond) Richard Bonynge (Argo/Decca)
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