Ca 1860: Attractive albumen photo showing the Composer Daniel François Esprit Auber. Scarce carte de visite in fine condition.
Daniel François Auber was, along with Giacomo Meyerbeer and Jacques Fromenthal Halévy, one of the three giants of French opera in the mid-nineteenth century.
Auber was born in France on January 29, 1782. Like most great composers his musical talents were discovered early and he was already composing at the age of eleven. However it was as late as 1804 that he returned from Enghland to France and soon began to make a reputation as a composer of instrumental music. In 1811, a very modest opera, Julie, was performed by amateurs with Cherubini in the audience. At that time, Cherubini and Spontini were the dominant figures on the French operatic scene. Cherubini recognized Auber's great talents and offered to supervise his further studies, little realizing that the younger man's works would eventually drive his own from the French stage. Very soon Auber went from success to success dominating the stage of the Opéra Comique to the same extent that Meyerbeer was soon to dominate that of the Opéra. However, it took Auber another three years to make operatic history, that being with his first work for the Opéra: La Muette de Portici. By late 1827 the operatic scene had changed radically as the center of operatic activity was beginning to shift northward from Italy to Paris. Spontini had been less successful with Olimpie and had already left for Berlin, where he was to take over as "Kappelmeister" at the Hofoper. Cherubini, who had helped teach Auber, was concentrating on church music, Boieldieu, the composer of La Dame Blanche (1825) and several earlier works, was less active. However, Gioacchino Rossini bad settled in Paris in 1824 and was destined to influence French opera to almost the same extent as he influenced Italian opera. Auber again struck gold with Fra Diavolo (Jan. 26, 1830), giving the Opéra Comique a work that they presented 909 times through 1911. Auber himself transformed it into the equivalent of an Italian opera buffa. The performance took place at a lesser theatre, the Lyceum because Covent Garden had been destroyed by a fire.
Of all of Auber's operas, Le Domino Noir was the most successful in Paris, with 1,209 performances in the Opéra Comique alone through up to around the first world war.
Auber had four more major successes after Le Domino Noir: like Les Diamants de la Couronne (1841) La Part du Diable (1843). Then, in 1868, Le Premier Jour de Bonheur triumphed, and was heard 175 times. One more opera followed, but Auber was unable to survive the hardships of the Prussian occupation and died on May 12, 1871.
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