Adolphe Charles Adam  
Adolphe Charles Adam
Adolphe Charles Adam (24 July 1803 – 3 May 1856) was a French composer and music critic. A prolific composer of operas and ballets, he is best known today for his ballets Giselle (1841) and Le corsaire (1856, his last work), his operas Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836), Le toréador (1849) and Si j'étais roi (1852) and his Christmas carol Minuit, chrétiens! (1844), later set to different English lyrics and widely sung as "O Holy Night" (1847). Adam was a noted teacher, who taught Delibes and other influential composers.

Life and career

Adolphe Adam was born in Paris to Jean-Louis Adam (1758–1848), who was a prominent Alsatian 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 and occasionally truanted with writer Eugène Sue who was also something of a dunce in early years. Jean-Louis Adam was a pianist and teacher but was firmly set against the idea of his son following in his footsteps. Adam was determined, however, and studied and composed secretly under the tutelage of his older friend Ferdinand Hérold, a popular composer of the day. When Adam was 17, his father relented, and he was permitted to study at the Paris Conservatoire—but only after he promised that he would learn music only as an amusement, not as a career. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1821, where he studied organ and harmonium under the celebrated opera composer François-Adrien Boieldieu. Adam also played the tympani in the orchestra of the Conservatoire; however, he did not win the Prix de Rome and his father did not encourage him to pursue a music career, as he won second prize.

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 Boieldieu prepare parts for his opera La dame blanche and made a piano reduction of the score. Adam was able to travel through Europe with the money he made, and he met Eugène Scribe, with whom he later collaborated, in Geneva. By 1830, he had completed twenty-eight works for the theatre.

Adam is probably best remembered for the ballet Giselle (1841). He wrote several other ballets and 39 operas, including Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836) and Si j'étais roi (1852).

After quarreling with the director of the Opéra, Adam invested his money and borrowed heavily to open a fourth opera house in Paris: the Théâtre National (Opéra-National). It opened in 1847, but closed because of the Revolution of 1848, leaving Adam with massive debts (Théâtre National later was resurrected under the name of Théâtre Lyrique at the Boulevard du Temple). His efforts to extricate himself from these debts include a brief turn to journalism. From 1849 to his death in Paris, he taught composition at the Paris Conservatoire.

His Christmas carol "Cantique de Noël", translated to English as "O Holy Night", is an international favorite, and is said to have been the first music broadcast on radio.

Adam is buried in Montmartre Cemetery in Paris.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Giselle - Svetlana Lunkina - Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Bolshoi, 1998
Giselle - Alessandra Ferri - Massimo Murru, La Scala 1996
Adolphe Adam: Cantique Noel
Wiener Konzerthaus, 13.12.2008
Mezzosoprano: Elina Garanca
Tenor: Diego Florez
Choir: Wiener Sängerknaben & Chorus Viennensis

Wiener Symphoniker
directed by Karel Mark Chichon

Enrico Caruso "Cantique de Noel" Adam
Enrico Caruso sings "Cantique de Noel"
by Adolphe Adam
with orchestra
Walter B. Rogers, conductor
Camden, NJ, 23.II.1916
Adolphe Adam - Giralda - Ouverture
Giralda ou La Nouvelle Psyché, opéra comique in three acts, first performance 20 July 1850, Opéra-Comique, Paris.
Le Chalet -1834
Le chalet is an opéra-comique in one act by Adolphe Adam to a French libretto by Eugène Scribe and Mélesville after the singspiel Jery und Bätely by Goethe. The score re-uses material from Adam's Prix de Rome cantata Ariane a Naxos (1825). The text for the singspiel had previously been set to music by Peter Winter, 1790, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 1801, and Conradin Kreutzer, 1810, and later by Donizetti, 1836, Julius Rietz, 1841, Heinrich Stihl, 1867, and Ingeborg Bronsart, 1873.

Performance history

The opera was premiered on 25 September 1834 by the Paris Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse. The work had a long and successful career at the Opéra-Comique; it reached its 500th performance in 1851, its 1,000th in 1873 and 1,500th in 1922 with Miguel Villabella as Daniel.


The scene is the inside of a chalet, open at the rear with a view of the countryside, and in the distance the mountains of Appenzell in Switzerland.

After a chorus of young villagers, a young farmer, Daniel, "the handsomest young man of Appenzell" enters and sings of his love for Bettly. The villagers sing of his misguided love, but in his joy he invites all to a wedding supper that evening.

Daniel reads a letter from Bettly which she has written to him, returning his love; Bettly enters and tells of her brother Max who has been absent fighting for fifteen years. It soon becomes clear that Bettly did not write the letter to Daniel (she cannot write) and she mocks him for being taken in by a joke of her friends.

Daniel is furious, having made all the preparations for a marriage including a contract, but Bettly flatly refuses, saying she doesn't need a husband. In his letter to Bettly, Max urges her to marry – and Daniel confesses that he has asked Max to intervene on his behalf.

Daniel hears troops approaching and asks them into the chalet; Max sings of his happiness of being back in his valley "Vallons de l'Helvétie". Daniel tells Max (whom he doesn't recognise) of his woes and asks to enlist in the army.

Bettly enters and Max and his men demand food and wine. Max conceals his identity from his sister, and leads her to believe that she will be at the mercy of the whole regiment for two weeks. Daniel re-enters with an old sword, ready to become a soldier, and from all his papers gives Bettly his will to keep; in a duo she asks him to stay while the soldiers are at the chalet; he agrees and curls up to sleep in a chair.

Max comes in pretending to be a bit drunk and Bettly cries for help. Daniel wakes and after an argument Max challenges him to a duel. As Daniel insists to her that he is prepared for his army life, Bettly, impressed by Daniel's willingness to fight for her honour, tries to prevent the duel, goes to his bags and finds the marriage certificate which she quickly signs. She whispers to Daniel that this is just a ruse; without her brother's signature it will not legal, but Max has crept up and signed the contract, saying that he has tricked them both to force them to be happy together.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Adolphe Adam - Le Chalet (1834)
Le Chalet, opéra comique in one acts, first performance 25 September 1834, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Eugène Scribe/Anne Honoré Joseph Mélesville, after theSingspiel Jery und Bäteli by Goethe

Air: Elle est à moi! C'est ma compagne (Daniel) 00:00
Couplets: Dans ce modeste et simple asile (Bettly) 03:52
Air: Arrêtons-nous ici! (Max) 07:35
Couplets with chorus: Dans le service de l'Autriche (Max, tenors 1 & 2, basses, a soldier) 12:39
Duo: Prêt à quitter ceux que l'on aime (Bettly, Daniel) 15:27
Duo: Il faut me céder ta maitresse (Max, Daniel) 23:23
Trio et Finale: Soutiens mon bras (Daniel, Max, Bettly, chorus) 29:50

Daniel: Joseph Peyron
Max: Stanislas Staskiewicz
Bettly: Denise Boursijn

Orchestra: Orcheste Lyrique de L'ORTF

Conductor: Albert Wolff

The Postillion of Lonjumeau - 1836
Le postillon de Lonjumeau (The Postillion of Lonjumeau) is an opéra-comique in three acts by Adolphe Adam to a French libretto by 'Adolphe de Leuven' and 'Brunswick' (pen names of Adolphe von Ribbing and Léon Lévy).

The opera has become the most successful of Adam's works and the one by which he is best known outside his native France (apart from his ballet Giselle and his Christmas carol Cantique de Noël). The opera is known for the difficult aria 'Mes amis, écoutez l'histoire' which has been called a test for tenors because of the demanding high D, or D5, in the end of the aria.

Performance history

The opera was premiered by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse in Paris on 13 October 1836. Performances followed at the St. James Theatre, London on 13 March 1837, and in New Orleans at the Théâtre d'Orléans on 19 April 1838.

Recent productions have been mounted in the Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden (from 4 August 2000) under Sebastian Weigle, directed by Alexander Schulin with Gert Henning-Jensen (Chapelou), Simone Nold (Madeleine), Hanno-Müller Brachmann (Biju), Klaus Häger (Corcy), and Bernd Zettisch (Bourdon), and at the Grand Théâtre, Dijon (from 30 March 2004 under Philippe Cambreling, directed by Patrick Abéjean with Bruno Comparetti (Chappelou / Saint-Phar), Isabelle Poulenard (Madeleine / Madame de Latour), Laurent Alvaro (le Marquis de Corcy), Jean Vendassi (Biju / Alcindor), Michèle Dumont (Rose), and Matthieu Grenier (Bourdon). The latter was a co-production of Opéra Paris-Sud and Le Duo / Dijon.

Prévost and Chollet as Madeleine and Chapelou


Act 1

The newly married postilion, or coachman, (Chapelou) and his wife (Madeleine), an innkeeper, to ensure that their marriage will be a joyous one, decide to consult a clairvoyant, who predicts that things will not go smoothly in their marriage but does not state exactly what will occur nor when. Initially concerned, their thoughts are temporarily forgotten as they enjoy their wedding night. Several days into the marriage, the Marquis de Corcy (who is also the director of the Royal Paris Opera House) arrives at the inn that Madeleine owns and Chapelou works at. He is immediately smitten with Chapelou's wife, but doesn't say anything to her. Then he overhears her husband singing his ‘usual’ song with other guests at the inn, and is impressed with his beautiful voice. He decides to invite the young coachman to join the Marquis’ company, but they have to leave immediately. With excitement, Chapelou asks his friend, Biju, to tell his wife where he has gone and what he plans to do. Chapelou and the Marquis then quickly depart for Paris, leaving Madeleine in a state of shock.

Act 2

Ten years later. By now Madeleine has come into an inheritance and is now known as Madame Latour, and Chapelou has become a star at the Paris Opera. After a performance, the Marquis holds a reception to which he has invited Madame Latour. As soon as they meet at the reception, Chapelou falls for the Madame's charms, not recognising the wife he left behind. He proposes, she accepts, and a wedding occurs.

Act 3

The Marquis has gone to inform the police and denounce this apparent act of bigamy. On the wedding night, Madeleine appears in her old peasant clothes and Chapelou recognises her. Then she transforms before his eyes into Madame Latour, the rich heiress. She reveals her deception to the Marquis, as he arrives with the police and declares to them her game - the couple have married twice and vow from that day on to love like good village people. This induces a hearty response from the chorus to provide a stirring finale.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adolphe Adam - Le Postillon de Lonjumeau
Le Postillon de Lonjumeau, opéra comique in three acts, first performance 13 October 1836, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Adolphe de Leuven/Léon-Lévy Brunswick

Chapelou: John Aler
Madelaine: June Anderson
Bijou: Jean-Philippe Lafont
Marquis de Corcy: François Le Roux
Bourdon: Daniel Ottevaere

Chorus: Ensemble Choral Jean Laforge

Orchestra: Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo

Conductor: Thomas Fulton

Adam: Le Postillon de Lonjumeau - Mes amis ecoutez l'histoire
Luca Canonici : A.Adam: Le Postillon de Lonjumeau: Mes amis ecoutez l'histoire
Hidden treasures - Adolphe Adam - Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836) - Selected highlights

John Aler - Chapelou,
June Anderson - Madeleine,
Francois Le Roux - Le Marquis de Corcy,
Jean-Phillippe Lafont - Bijou (bass-baritone), a friend of Chapelou,
Balvina de Courcelles - Rose (soprano), Madeleine's chambermaid.

Adolphe Adam - Le Toréador (1849)
Le Toréador ou L'Accord parfait, opéra comique in three acts, first performance 18 May 1849, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Thomas Marie François Sauvage

Coraline: Sumi Jo
Tracolin: John Aler
Don Belflor: Michel Trempont

Orchestra: Welsh National Opera Orchestra

Conductor: Richard Bonynge

Adolphe Adam - Ouverture "Le toréador" (1849)
Sumi Jo - Adam - Le Toreador - Ah! vous dirai-je, maman
Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2000,
Oslo, Norway

Composor - Adam
Opera - Le Toreador
Aria - Ah! vous dirai-je, maman
Vocal - Sumi Jo

Adolphe Adam - Le Farfadet (1852)
Le Farfadet, opéra comique in one act, first performance 19 March 1852, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: François-Antoine-Eugène de Planard

Ouverture 00:00
Pour Finir Gaiement 03:00
Ce Vieux Moulin Est Fait Expres 08:16
Il Me Calinait Et Me Repetait 15:24
Personne En Bas Dans Le Moulin 17:43
Que La Peur Est Imbecile 22:32
Ah C'est De La Magie 27:19
Que Peut-Il Nous Ecrire 33:41

Laurette: Janine Capderou
Babet: Lina Dachary
Le Bailli: Joseph Peyron
Bastien: Bernard Plantey
Marcelin: Bernard Demigny

Orchestra: Orchestre Lyrique de l'ORTF

Conductor: Robert Benedetti

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "O, Holy Night"
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "O, Holy Night" (Adolphe Adam arr. David Cullen). With Philharmonia Orchestra, Carl Davis / conductor. Recorded at Barbican Center, London, UK, 1988.
O Holy Night - Leontyne Price
Leontyne Price has been, for more than 40 years, one of the most influential sopranos of the century; and one of the first African-American singers to reach worldwide recognition.
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