Adolphe Charles Adam Biography Overture to the “Giralda” Opera
Adolphe Charles Adam (1803-1856) French composer and music critic. A prolific composer of operas, ballets vaudeville and incidental music. His works include 40 operas and 14 ballets. He is best known today for his ballets Giselle (1844) and Le corsaire (1856, his last work), his operas Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836) and Si j'étais roi (1852, often regarded as his finest work) and his Christmas carol "Minuit, chrétiens!" ("O Holy Night") (1847). Adam was also a noted teacher. Léo Delibes was among his pupils. Adam's music is characterized by a Gallic charm, whether filtered through the wistful lyricism of Giselle or the worldly wit of Le Postillon de Lonjumeau, in which he satirized the world of opera. He had no great desire to produce innovative, deeply felt, or especially sophisticated works and focused his energies on giving his audiences the tuneful, graceful music and vivid theatrical entertainment that they wanted.
Biography Adolphe Adam was born in Paris to Louis Adam (1758-1848), who was also a composer, as well a professor at the Paris Conservatoire. His mother was the daughter of a physician. As a child, Adolphe Adam preferred to improvise music on his own rather than study music seriously. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1821 , where he studied organ and harmonium under the celebrated opera composer François-Adrien Boïeldieu. By age 20, he was writing songs for Paris vaudeville houses and playing in the orchestra at the Gymnasie Dramatique, where he later became chorus master. Like many other French composers, he made a living largely by playing the organ. In 1825, he helped Boïeldieu prepare parts for his opera La dame blanche and made a piano reduction of the score. With what he earned from this project, Adam travelled to Belgium, Holland, Germany and Switzerland. In Geneva, he met librettist and dramatist Eugene Scribe, someone he would collaborate with on his operas for the next 30 years.
By 1830, he had completed twenty-eight works for the theatre. In these early years of his career, Adam earned a living as an organist. He was also involved in theatre, first as an unpaid triangle player at the Gymnase Dramatique, and later as timpanist and chorus master. At the same time, he was actively composing music for vaudeville houses. GROWING REPUTATION Adam rapidly solidified his reputation as a composer in the early 1830s. His first dramatic composition, the one-act operetta, Pierre et Catherine , was performed at the Opera-Comique in 1829, and ran for more than 80 performances. This was followed by his first music for ballet, La chatte blanche , for the Theatre des Nouveautes (1830). Through his brother-in-law, Francois Laporte, who was then musical director at Covent Garden, a couple of Adam's works were staged in London in 1832, “ His first campaign” and “ The Eolian Harp” . This led to him writing more music for the ballet, Faust (1833) for the King's Theatre in London.
Departing from the comique-opera style he had been using in his earlier works, he wrote Le chalet (1834) considered to be the first true French operetta with its light, frivolous style influenced by vaudeville music. A couple of years later, he would seal his reputation with the comic opera Le postillion de Lonjumeau (1836). He continued composing music for ballet with his first work for the Paris Opera in 1836 - the ballet La fille du Danube for Filippo Taglioni, a well-known dancer and choreographer. A few years later, he was invited to St. Petersburg to write another new ballet L'ecumeur des mers (1840) for Taglioni and his ballerina daughter Marie. He was next invited by Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to write a work for the Berlin theatre, resulting in Les Hamadryades (1840), also for Taglioni. La Poupeé de Nuremberg
GISELLE The peak of his success in writing for ballet came with in 1841 with “Giselle ou Les Willis” which premiered at the Paris Opera on June 28, 1841. This was followed by another successful ballet in 1842 with La jolie fille de Gand. FINANCIAL PROBLEMS Many of Adam's opera productions were staged at the Opera-Comique, where he enjoyed a good relationship with director Francois-Louis Crosnier. However, when Andre-Alexandre Basset became director, the two men clashed and Basset refused to allow any work by Adam to be staged by the company. Because of this, Adam, with Crosnier's support, decided to establish a new opera house for young composers , taking out a huge loan to do so. The Opera-National opened in 1847 . Unfortunately, the political turmoil of 1848 led to the closure of the theatre, leaving Adam mired in debt.
After the failure of his theatre, Adam had to turn to music criticism for a while in order to earn a living. In 1849, he was appointed professor of composition at the Conservatoire. Despite all his financial problems, Adam never gave up composing. After a change of Director at the Opera-Comique, Adam staged one of his best works, Giralda, there in 1950. Si j'etais roi , considered by some his finest work, was staged at the Theatre Lyrique in 1852. His ballet Le Corsaire premiered at the Paris Opera in January 1856. And his last work to be staged, Les pantins de Violette, had its premiere just four days before his death. Adam died on May 3, 1856 in Paris , and is buried in the Montmartre Cemetery.
The Giselle Ballet Giselle is the most famous ballet of the Romantic era, owed its creation to the French poet and writer Théophile Gautier. He wrote its plot after a German legend he had found in a book of the German poet Heinrich Heine, Músic: Adolphe Charles Adam Librettist: Jules Henry Vernoy & Teóphile Gautier “ Retour de la vendange”
Act - I A small, peaceful village, bathed in sunlight. It is inhabited by simple, artless people. Giselle, a young peasant girl, is rejoicing in the sun, the blue sky, the singing of the birds and, most of all, in the happiness of pure, trusting love which has lit up her life. She is in love with Albretch and is confident that she is loved. The gamekeeper, who is in love with Giselle, tries in vain to persuade her that Albrecht, her loved one, is not a peasant at all but a nobleman in disguise and that he is deceiving her. The gamekeeper manages to steal into the cottage which Albrecht is renting in the village and here he finds a silver sword with a coat of arms on it . Now the gamekeeper knows for sure that Albrecht is concealing his noble origins.
A party of distinguished noblemen, attended by a sumptuous suite, seek rest and refreshment in the village after the hunt. The peasants give their guests a cordial welcome. Albrecht is embarrassed by this unexpected meeting : he tries to hide the fact he knows them for, in their company, is his betrothed, Bathilde. Meanwhile the gamekeeper shows everyone Albrecht’s sword and, unmasking him, tells them of the latter’s deceit. Giselle is shocked to the core by the perfidy of her loved one. The pure, crystal-clear world of her faith, hopes and dreams has been destroyed. She goes mad and dies.
Act – II Night-time. The ghostly forms of the Wilis, died brides, appear among the graves of the village church yard which is bathed in moonlight. “ Dressed in bridal gowns and garlands of flowers, the irresistibly beautiful Wilis danced to the light of the moon.” (Heinrich Heine). And as they felt the time given them for dancing was running out and that they had again to return to their icy graves, their dancing became more and more impassioned and rapid. The Wilis catch sight of the gamekeeper who, suffering from pangs of conscience, has come to visit Giselle’s grave. “ Marche des vignerons”
At the command of Myrtha, the unrelenting Queen of the Wilis, the Wilis encircle the gamekeeper and make him dance until he drops lifeless, to the ground. Albrecht too, is unable to forget Giselle. And, at dead of night, he comes to her grave. The Wilis immediately encircle the youth. Albrecht is now threatened by the same horrifying fate as the gamekeeper. But the shadow of Giselle now appears and her eternal and her self-sacrificing love protects and saves Albrecht from the anger of the Wilis. The ghostly, white forms of the Wilis vanish with the first rays of the rising sun and Giselle’s ethereal shadow vanishes too, but Giselle will always be alive in Albrecht’s memory, the ever present regret for a lost love, a love that is stronger than death.
Ballets La Chatte blanche (1830) Faust (1833) La Fille du Danube (1836) Les Mohicans (1837) L'Écumeur des mers (1840) Les Hamadryades (1840) Giselle ou les Willis (1841) La jolie Fille de Gand (1842) Le Diable à quatre (1843) La Fille de marbre (1845) Griseldis ou Les Cinq Sens (1848) Le Filleule des fées (1849) Orfa (1852) Le Corsaire (1856) Main Works of Adolphe Charles Adam “ Cantique de Noël”
Óperas Pierre et Catherine (1829) Danilowa (1830) Trois Jours en une heure (1830) Joséphine ou Le Retour de Wagram (1830) Le Morceau d'ensemble (1831) Le Grand Prix ou Le Voyage à frais communs (1831) Casimir ou Le Premier Tête-à-tête (1831) His First Campaign (1832) The Dark Diamond (1832) Le Proscrit ou Le Tribunal (1833) Une Bonne Fortune (1834) Micheline ou L'Heure de l'esprit (1835) Le Postillon de Lonjumeau (1836) Le Fidèle Berger (1838) Le Brasseur de Preston (1838) Régine ou Les Deux Nuits (1839) La Reine d'un jour (1839) La Rose de Péronne (1840)
La Main de fer ou Un mariage secret (1841) Le Roi d'Yvetôt (1842) Lambert Simnel (1843) Cagliostro (1844) Richard en Palestine (1844) Les Premiers Pas ou Les Deux Génies (1847) Le Toréador ou L'Accord parfait (1849) Giralda ou La Nouvelle Psyché (1850) Le Farfadet (1852) La Poupée de Nuremberg (1852) Si J'étais roi (1852) Le Sourd ou L'Auberge pleine (1853) Le Bijou perdu (1853) Le Muletier de Tolède (1854) À Clichy, épisode de la vie d'un artiste (1854) Mam'zelle Geneviève (1856) Falstaff (1856) Les Pantins de Violette (1856) Óperas