Daniel-François-Esprit Auber  
Daniel-François-Esprit Auber
Daniel-François-Esprit Auber, (born Jan. 29, 1782, Caen, France—died May 12, 1871, Paris), composer who was prominent in the 19th-century cultivation of opera containing spoken as well as sung passages (comic opera). The great contemporary success of his works was due in part to the expertly tailored librettos of Eugène Scribe and in part to Auber’s spirited musical settings, which were influenced by Gioachino Rossini and well suited to French taste. One of the most successful and still familiar works in this popular, romantic vein is Fra Diavolo (1830; Brother Devil).

The collaboration between Auber and Scribe produced 38 stage works between 1823 and 1864. The spectacular Muette de Portici (1828; Mute Girl of Portici, also known as Masaniello) has been regarded as an archetype of French grand opera. It greatly impressed Richard Wagner, who modeled his Rienzi (1840) after it. In addition to anticipating the works of Giacomo Meyerbeer, Auber’s Le Philtre (1831) provided the dramatic basis for Gaetano Donizetti’s Elisir d’amore (1832; The Elixir of Love), and Auber’s Gustave III (1833) gave Giuseppe Verdi his story for Un ballo in maschera (1859; A Masked Ball).

Having composed music since childhood, Auber became a pupil of Luigi Cherubini in 1805. His life, almost entirely devoted to opera, was uneventful. His religious cantatas and motets, written between 1852 and 1855, are little known. Auber was elected to the Académie Française in 1829, was appointed director of the Paris Conservatory in 1842, and became chapelmaster to Napoleon III in 1857. His music is also thought to have influenced Charles Gounod, Jules Massenet, and Richard Strauss.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Daniel François Esprit Auber, circa 1860s, by Nadar

Auber was one of the leading nineteenth-century exponents of opera comique. The son of a huntsman turned art dealer, he was born m Normandy and at an early age revealed his gift for playing the piano. By the time he was a teenager, he had written Italianate concert arias, a piano sonata, and a string quartet.

In 1802 England and France signed the Peace of Amiens. Auber's father sent him to England to acquire skills in commerce, but the following year England again declared war on France, and Auber returned home to concentrate on music. His single-act pasticcio (a composition formed by combining the music of two or more composers). L'erreur d'un moment, was performed in Pans in 1805 and was seen by Cherubim, who agreed to give him further instruction. He began to compose prolifically in many forms, and with Cherubim's guidance achieved his first successful operas comiques with La bergere chatelaine in 1820 and Emma in 1821. This led to his meeting the important librettist Eugene Scribe, with whom he struck up a working friendship that would last 40 years.

Auber deviated from the French style of opera for the next three productions, drawing on Rossini's work, winch he much admired. He reverted to the French idiom in 1824 with Leocadie and in 1825 with Le mасоn, which epitomized the best of French opera comique. Other successes followed, Auber and Scribe achieving a musical cocktail of French opera with the flair of Rossini's ideas and alternately funny and sad reflections upon life from the pen of Scribe. The partnership grew in strength and they were invited to compose the opera La muette de Portici for the Academie Royale, which was successfully performed in 1828. An opera on a grand scale based on the French Revolution, its impact was such that its premiere in Brussels is said to have sparked off a revolt to free Belgium from Dutch rule. Typically of Grand Opera, it features dramatic stage effects and huge crowd scenes.

In all, more than 45 operas by Auber were presented in Paris, 37 in collaboration with Scribe. A good example of Auber's comic opera style is Frva Diavolo, in which the story of the pursuit and capture of a Robin Hood-like criminal is accompanied by simple, well-orchestrated melodies, punctuated by decorative figures which allow the singers to show off.

In 1 825 Auber was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by Charles X, and in 1852 Napoleon III appointed him musical director of his Imperial Chapel. In 1842, following in the footsteps of Cherubini, he became director of the Pans Conservatoire, a post he occupied until a year before his death in 1871.

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué
Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué, opéra historique in five acts, first performance 27 February 1833, Grand Opéra, Paris.

Libretto: Eugène Scribe

Amélie: Rima Tawil
Ankaström: Christian Tréguier
Armfelt: Franck Leguérinel
Arvedson: Valérie Marestin
Christian: Patrick Foucher
Dehorn: Gilles Dubernet
Diener: Franck Leguérinel
Gustave: Laurence Dale
Kammerdiener: Franck Leguérinel
Kammerherr: Franck Leguérinel
Kaulbart: Franck Leguérinel
Oscar: Brigitte Lafon
Ribbing: Roger Pujol

Chorus: Ensemble Vocal Intermezzo

Orchestra: Orchestre Lyrique Français

Conductor: Michel Swierczewski

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - Gustave III, ou le Bal masqué - Ballet music
Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué, opéra historique in five acts, first performance 27 February 1833, Grand Opéra, Paris.

Libretto: Eugène Scribe

Ballet music

Allemande 00:00
Pas des folies 04:37
Pas des paysans 09:26
Menuetto 13:57
March I 17:07
March II 18:13
Galop 21:33

Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra

Conductor: Richard Bonynge

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - La Sirène - Ouverture
La Sirène, opéra comique in three acts, first performance 26 March 1844, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Eugène Scribe


Orchestra: Stockholms Strauss Orkester

Conductor: Sven Verde

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - La Neige - Ouverture
La Neige ou Le Nouvel Eginard, opéra comique in four acts, first performance 9 October 1823, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Eugène Scribe/Germain Delavigne


Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra

Conductor: Richard Bonynge

Le domino noir (The Black Domino) - 1837
Le domino noir (The Black Domino) is an opéra comique by the French composer Daniel Auber, first performed on 2 December 1837 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse in Paris. The libretto to the three-act piece is by Auber's usual collaborator, Eugène Scribe. It was one of Auber's most successful works, clocking up 1,207 performances by 1909. It received its UK premiere in 1838 and appeared in the USA the following year. Some of Auber's music has a Spanish flavour to reflect its setting.

In 1869, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky provided recitatives to replace the spoken dialogue for a proposed production of Le domino noir by an Italian opera company visiting Russia. No performances are believed to have taken place, but four of Tchaikovsky's recitatives were included in Richard Bonynge's recording of the opera.

Performance history
There was a production of the opera by Pierre Jourdan at the Théâtre Imperial at Compiègne in 1995.

In 2007, the St. Petersburg Conservatory Theatre in Russia included Tchaikovsky's recitatives in its production.

Time: c. 1780
Place: Madrid

The action concerns a young novice nun, Angèle de Olivarès. Enjoying her last freedom before taking final vows, Angèle slips out of the Ursuline convent along with her companion Brigitte to attend a ball in honour of the Queen of Spain's birthday. To conceal her identity, she wears a black half-mask (the "domino" of the title). A year previously, at the same ball, Angèle had met a young man, Horace de Masserena. Horace has fallen in love with her and returns to the ball in the hope of seeing her again. Instead he meets the unknown woman in the black mask and dances with her. Thinking to help Horace, his friend Count Juliano, sets the clock back an hour causing Angèle to miss leaving at midnight, which would have allowed her to get back to the convent in time before the gates close. Angèle runs off and tries to take shelter for the night in a house she finds on the way. Unfortunately, it turns out to belong to Count Juliano who is holding a late-night party for his friends. Angèle persuades the housekeeper to disguise her as her niece from the country. She manages to fool everyone except, of course, Horace who recognises her from the ball a year ago. He does not tell anyone else but locks Angèle in a room where he hopes to keep her until she gives him an explanation. But Angèle is inadvertently freed by the housekeeper's lover, the drunken Gil Perez, who opens the door and runs off, having mistaken her for a demon in her mask and cloak. Angèle manages to slip undiscovered into the convent, where on the very same day she is to be installed as an abbess. Shortly before the ceremony, a letter from the queen frees her from her vows, which allows her to marry Horace and Ursule, her jealous rival for the office, to the chagrin of other nuns, is named the new abbess instead.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - Le domino noir - Ouverture
Le domino noir, opéra comique in three acts, first performance 2 December 1837, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Scribe


Orchestra: Philarmonia Slavonica

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - Lestocq - Ouverture
Lestocq ou L'Intrigue et l'amour, opéra comique in four acts, first performance 21 May 1834, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Eugene Scribe


Orchestra: New Philharmonia Orchestra

Conductor: Richard Bonynge

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - Marco Spada - Ouverture
Marco Spada, opéra comique in three acts, first performance 21 December 1852, Opéra-Comique, Paris.

Libretto: Scribe/Delavigne; Final scene after La Confession du bandit bt Horace Vernet.


Orchestra: New Philharmonia Orchestra

Conductor: Richard Bonynge

La muette de Portici - 1828
La muette de Portici (The Dumb Girl of Portici, or The Mute Girl of Portici) originally called Masaniello, ou La muette de Portici, is an opera in five acts by Daniel Auber, with a libretto by Germain Delavigne, revised by Eugène Scribe. The work has an important place in musical history, as it is generally regarded as the earliest French grand opera.


The opera was first given at the Salle Le Peletier of the Paris Opéra on 29 February 1828. The role of Masaniello was taken by the famous tenor Adolphe Nourrit and Princess Elvire was sung by Laure Cinti-Damoreau. The dancer Lise Noblet played the mute title role, a part later taken by other dancers such as Marie Taglioni and Fanny Elssler, also the actress Harriet Smithson (the future wife of Hector Berlioz). Alphonse was created by Alexis Dupont, who was Lise Noblet's brother-in-law. The conductor at the premiere was François Habeneck.

La muette was innovative in a number of ways. First, it marked the introduction into opera of mime and gesture as an integral part of an opera plot (although these formats were familiar to Parisian audiences from ballet and mélodrame). Its historic setting, liberal political implications, use of popular melodies, handling of large orchestra and chorus and spectacular stage effects immediately marked it as different from preceding types of opera, in retrospect earning it the title of the first of the genre of 'Grand Opera'. The journal Pandore commented after the premiere

"for a long time, enlightened critics have thought that alongside the old tragédie lyrique it was possible to have a more realistic and natural drama which might suit the dignity of this theatre."

The new genre was consolidated by Rossini's Guillaume Tell (1829) and Meyerbeer's Robert le diable (1831).

La muette was revived in Paris immediately after the French July Revolution of 1830. Later, at a performance of this opera at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels on 25 August 1830, a riot broke out during the patriotic and revolutionary duet "Amour sacré de la patrie" that became the signal for the Belgian Revolution, which led to Belgian independence. Richard Wagner remarked, in his 1871 Reminiscences of Auber, that the opera

"whose very representation had brought [revolutions] about, was recognised as an obvious precursor of the July Revolution, and seldom has an artistic product stood in closer connection with a world-event."


The opera is loosely based on the historical uprising of Masaniello against Spanish rule in Naples in 1647.

Act 1
We witness the wedding of Alfonso, son of the Viceroy of Naples, with the Spanish Princess Elvira. Alfonso, who has seduced Fenella, the Neapolitan Masaniello's mute sister and abandoned her, is tormented by doubts and remorse, fearing that she has committed suicide. During the festival Fenella rushes in to seek protection from the Viceroy, who has kept her a prisoner for the past month. She has escaped from her prison and narrates the story of her seduction by gestures, showing a scarf which her lover gave her. Elvira promises to protect her and proceeds to the altar, Fenella vainly trying to follow. In the chapel Fenella recognizes her seducer in the bridegroom of the Princess. When the newly married couple come out of the church, Elvira presents Fenella to her husband and discovers from the mute girl's gestures, that he was her faithless lover. Fenella flees, leaving Alfonso and Elvira in sorrow and despair.

Act 2
The fishermen, who have been brooding in silence over the tyranny of their foes, begin to assemble. Pietro, Masaniello's friend, has sought for Fenella in vain, but at length she appears of her own accord and confesses her wrongs. Masaniello is infuriated and swears to have revenge, but Fenella, who still loves Alfonso, does not mention his name. Then Masaniello calls the fishermen to arms and they swear perdition to the enemy of their country.

Act 3
The Naples marketplace

People go to and fro, selling and buying, all the while concealing their purpose under a show of merriment and carelessness. Selva, the officer of the Viceroy's body-guard, from whom Fenella has escaped, discovers her and the attempt to rearrest her is the sign for a general revolt, in which the people are victorious.

Act 4
Fenella comes to her brother's dwelling and describes the horrors, which are taking place in the town. The relation fills his noble soul with sorrow and disgust. When Fenella has retired to rest, Pietro enters with comrades and tries to excite Masaniello to further deeds, but he only wants liberty and shrinks from murder and cruelties.

They tell him that Alfonso has escaped and that they are resolved to overtake and kill him. Fenella, who hears all, decides to save her lover. At this moment Alfonso begs at her door for a hiding-place. He enters with Elvira, and Fenella, though at first disposed to avenge herself on her rival, pardons her for Alfonso's sake. Masaniello, reentering, assures the strangers of his protection and even when Pietro denounces Alfonso as the Viceroy's son, he holds his promise sacred. Pietro with his fellow-conspirators leaves him full of rage and hatred.

Meanwhile the magistrate of the city presents Masaniello with the Royal crown and he is proclaimed King of Naples.

Act 5
Before the Viceroy's palace

In a gathering of fishermen, Pietro confides to Moreno that he has administered poison to Masaniello, in order to punish him for his treason, and that the King of one day will soon die. While he speaks, Borella rushes in to tell of a fresh troop of soldiers, marching against the people with Alfonso at their head. Knowing that Masaniello alone can save them, the fishermen entreat him to take the command of them once more and Masaniello, though deadly ill and half bereft of his reason, complies with their request. The combat takes place, while an eruption of Vesuvius is going on. Masaniello falls in the act of saving Elvira's life. On hearing these terrible tidings Fanella rushes to the terrace, from which she leaps into the abyss beneath, while the fugitive noblemen take again possession of the city.

La Muette de Portici played a major role in establishing the genre of grand opera. Many of its elements – the five-act structure, the obligatory ballet sequence, the use of spectacular stage effects, the focus on romantic passions against a background of historical troubles – would become the standard features of the form for the rest of the 19th century. Grand opera would play a far more important role in the subsequent career of the librettist than that of the composer. Auber went on to write three more works in the genre: Le Dieu et la bayadère (1830), Gustave III (1833) and Le lac des fées (1839). But their fame would be eclipsed by the grand operas for which Scribe provided the libretti: Meyerbeer's Robert le diable (1831) and Les Huguenots (1836) and Halévy's La Juive (1835). Nevertheless, Auber's pioneering work caught the attention of the young Richard Wagner, who was eager to create a new form of music drama. He noted that in La Muette, "arias and duets in the wonted sense were scarcely to be detected any more, and certainly, with the exception of a single prima-donna aria in the first act, did not strike one at all as such; in each instance it was the ensemble of the whole act that riveted attention and carried one away...".

It also played a large role in the founding of the Kingdom of Belgium. The riots that led to the independence started after hearing the opera, with its nationalistic view.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - La Muette de Portici - Ouverture
La Muette de Portici, grand opéra in five acts, first performance 29 February 1828, Grand Opéra, Paris.

Libretto: Eugène Scribe/Germain Delavigne


Orchestra: Radio Bratislava Symphony Orchestra

Conductor: Ondrej Lenárd

Fra Diavolo - 1830
Fra Diavolo, ou L'hôtellerie de Terracine (Fra Diavolo, or The Inn of Terracina) is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer Daniel Auber, from a libretto by Auber's regular collaborator Eugène Scribe. It is loosely based on the life of the Itrani guerrilla leader Michele Pezza, active in southern Italy in the period 1800-1806, who went under the name of Fra Diavolo ("Brother Devil").

The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Ventadour in Paris on 28 January 1830 and an Italian version was prepared by Auber and Scribe for performance in London in 1857. This contained new recitatives and arias, as well as expanding the roles of Fra Diavolo's accomplices.

The opera was Auber's greatest success, one of the most popular works of the 19th century and was in the standard repertory in its original French as well as German and Italian versions. An English translation was also prepared. Hugh Macdonald has characterised this comic opera as "the most successful work of its kind before Offenbach".


Zerline, daughter of the innkeeper of Terracina, is in love with an impoverished soldier, Lorenzo, but her father wants her to marry the rich old Francesco. Lorenzo is in pursuit of the notorious bandit Fra Diavolo. Diavolo himself arrives at the inn disguised as a marquis and robs two English travellers, Lord and Lady Cockburn. Lorenzo manages to retrieve part of the stolen goods and is rewarded with enough money to marry Zerline. Diavolo is determined to rob the travellers again and enlists the help of his two comical henchmen, Giacomo and Beppo. During the night the three of them sneak into Zerline's room and steal her dowry. Lorenzo appears and mistakes the 'marquis' for a rival in love. The next day Zerline is forced to marry Francesco as she now no longer has her dowry. Diavolo instructs his henchmen to warn him when Lorenzo and his troop of soldiers have left the town so he can safely rob again, but the two are recognised in the crowd by Zerline and Diavolo is tricked into appearing and arrested when the signal is given as arranged. Zerline is free to marry Lorenzo again.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Auber "Fra Diavolo" -- Deutsche Oper am Rhein 1982
Fra Diavolo: Ion Buzea
Zerline: Emily Rawlins
Matteo: Arwed Sandner
Lord Kookburn: Peter van der Bilt
Pamela: Jeanne Piland
Lorenzo: Douglas F. Ahlstedt
Giacomo: Alfred Kuhn
Beppo: Udo Holdorf
Pedro: Günther Bittermann
Ein Soldat: Siegfried Etienne
Francesco: Josef Haug

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber "Fra Diavolo"
Comic opera in three acts
Libretto by Eugène Scribe
Chor der Deutschen Oper am Rhein
Düsseldorfer Symphoniker
Conductor: Jiři Kout

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - Fra Diavolo - Ouverture
Fra Diavolo ou L'Hôtellerie de Terracine, opéra comique in three acts, first performance 28 January 1830, Théâtre Feydeau, Paris.

Libretto: Eugène Scribe


Orchestra: Nürnberg Symphonieorchester

Conductor: Hanspeter Gmur

Daniel Auber - Fra Diavolo - "Si, domani!" (Lucianna Serra)
"Fra Diavolo" is considered Auber's masterpiece comic opera, it is one of the most strikingly charming and gentle comic operas I had the pleasure to hear. It has much in common with Boildieu's "La dame blanche" excepts from which I'm also going to post but I find "Fra Diavolo" to be a more consistent work, but that's just my opinion, you'll just have to judge from the presented excepts.

Zerline (or Zerlina, as in the Italian version which I'm using), the opera's heroine, has quite a lot of music to sing, actually, she doesn't leave the scene for most of Act Two during which she has two full scenes: a very large aria a rendition of which by Sutherland I have already posted some time ago; and the present aria/prayer. Zerlina is going to marry her beloved, Lorenzo, the very next morning. She is, of course, very happy about this: the whole first section of the scene is basically one torrent of the young girl's happiness. The section is built around the familiar couplet form with a few innovations: after the second full repeat, Zerlina sings a short section that seems to be an actual song (as in, this section is to be considered a real song; it will play a crucial part in the opera's denouement); there is a short "tempo di mezzo "before the final repeat of the main theme where Zerlina reminds herself that people are sleeping all around her (the whole opera happens in and around the inn of Zerlina's father where she works). She repeats the final part of the main theme one last time before preparing for sleep. It's often said that any good opera must have a drinking song and a prayer. Well, the drinking song has occurred in the Introduction to the First Act, while the final section of this scene is a prayer that Zerlina sings to Saint Mary. The girl falls asleep during the second couplet. It's not any of the "Ave Maria"s we know and love, but it's a perfectly charming finish to the piece, plus, it's a compliment to the simple, gentle Zerlina. The comedy comes from the fact that while Zerlina is dancing around her room, she is being watched upon by the robber Fra Diavolo of the title and his accomplices who note, for example, that the "song" is "very original".

Luciana Serra offers some very attractive singing here

Daniel François Esprit Auber - Rondo for cello and orchestra
Rondo for cello and orchestra

Cellist: Martin Ostertag

Orchestra: Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

Conductor: Roberto Paternostro

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