Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A delicious heap of old musical-theatre music!

Goodness, I wonder where I got these from. France it seems. Well, I'll put them up on here, and then I'll find a home for them ...

The first one is from 1845. Its a quadrille, composed by Oscar Commetant, written on the themes of Nicolo Isouard's fairy opera Cendrillon. Now, Cendrillon was first staged in 1810, and very successful it was, but things like Napoléon and the Battle of Waterloo got in its way and when it was revived it flopped. But in 1845, the Opéra-Comique decided to revive it. Of course as revivers do they fiddled with it, and the critical result was muted, but it did all right. This engraving shows us what I presume is Cinderella (Mme Darcier) doing a tambourine routine before the Prince (Audran, father the composer), Dandini (Sainte-Foy) and sisters Clorinda (Mme Casimir, with an interpolated frilly air by Adolphe Adam) and Tisbe (Mme Révilly).

The next engraving is from 1863. It is a grandiose production of the old faérie, Peau d'âne, mounted by Harmant at the Théâtre de la Gaïté. The old libretto was given a smarten-up by the spiritual Clairville, the all-important decors were by Cambon, Fromont and ... Jules Chéret. The less important music seems to have been credited to the conductor Louis Fossey, Edmond L'Huillier and Victor Chéri. It was Fossey who got the traditional conductor's perk of arranging the show tunes in dance music such as this quadrille. And the illustration was Chéret's design for an 'Aquarium' scene.

This one is a slight puzzle. La Famille Benoîton, by Victorian Sardou, produced at the Vaudeville 4 November 1865, was not a musical. It was a straight comedy. But comedies in the good old days had an orchestra, and even odd songs, so maybe this one did too. Anyway, Adolphe de Groot was the theatre's conductor, and he is credited for the, probably arranged and selected, music for this highly successful play. And, with the addition of a nice 'cast photo' litho by Léon Loire, the score of incidental music seems to have been made up into a saleable quadrille by inveterate dance-music arranger Henri Marx.

Cocktail time ... then I'll see what else is in that pile!

No comments: