Price: $1000.00


Early one page small octavo letter signed to the librettist and poet Thomas Sauvage, Paris, January 30, 1827.  The address panel is on the verso, as well as the remnants of the seal.  We include an original Galerie Contemporains Illustre lithograph of the composer with ayouthful image contemporary to the letter by Pierre Degobert and printed later by Charles Hen of Brussels, 6.25” x 9.5” c. 1840.

My dear sir!


I would need the Romilda e Costanza libretto that I have given to you as soon as possible. To help me facilitate, instead of sending it to me, you return it to me yourself. Because I have to ask you several things.


In the meantime, I have the honor to be shown your handwriting.


Paris 30 January 1827          J. Meyerbeer



Meyerbeer’s (1791-1864) career had 3 distinct periods, the first and earliest his German period where he studied with among others, Clementi, Salieri, Zelter and Spohr.  He wrote four operas between 1811 and 1813, the first was never performed.  He went to Italy in 1816 touring the major cities and Sicily where he became an ethnomusicologist and gathered folk songs.  In 1817 he premiered the first opera of his Italian period, “Romilda e Costanza” mentioned in our letter. Meyerbeer had arrived and was labelled by the critic and music intellectual Luigi Borghi, Al genio della spree! (The genius of the spree) He would go on to write seven more Italian operas through 1825, though only five were performed. Meyerbeer, overworked went back to Germany and wrote his operas for Italy from Berlin.  Perhaps the best known of these early Italian operas were “Margherita d’Anjou” and “Il Crociato in Egitto”, both of which received Parisian premieres after his arrival in Paris in 1825 with the French premiere of “Il Crociato in Egitto”, which incidentally was the last opera to feature a castrato.


Meyerbeer had mastered Italian opera, those early Italian operas were written in the true Italian bel canto style that was the turf held by Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and other opera composers of that period.  He confided in his friend Carl Maria v. Weber that he was not sure he had the ability to write French opera, which at that point was a very different sound.  While “Il Crociato in Egitto” put Meyerbeer on the map internationally, even in French translation it was an Italianate opera.  In 1825, Meyerbeer hired the young and up and coming playwright Thomas Sauvage to translate his opera “Margherita d’Anjou” from Italian to French. It was understood that Thomas also revised the libretto from the Rossi original to go with Meyerbeer’s revisions.  The Paris Opera produced the work in 1826.  Based upon our letter, it would seem that in 1827, Meyerbeer was considering mounting “Romilda e Costanza” giving the libretto to Thomas, but came to naught, as you can see from our letter, as Meybeer requests it’s return.  


The composer would not produce his first French opera “Robert le Diable” until 1831.  A rousing success, the opera established Meyerbeer in Paris as a composer of grand opera, before long, the King of Grand Opera in Paris.


Early Meyerbeer letters where he still signed J. Meyerbeer are rare, where he actually discusses his work, especially mentioning his first Italian opera is even rarer.


Note, tears to the left are from the opening of the sealed letter by Thomas Sauvage.




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