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BALFE, M[ichael]. W[illiam].
[LIBRETTO] The New Grand Opera, In Three Acts, Of The Bohemian Girl, As First Performed At The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, On Monday, November 27th, 1843.

The Music, (Composed Expressly For This Theatre) By M. W. BALFE, The Words By ALFRED BUNN.

pp. 32. TOGETHER WITH : PLAYBILL for the 'Theatre Royal Drury Lane, This Evening, Thursday, Feb. 1st. 1884, Her Majesty's Servants will perform (43rd) time a NEW GRAND OPERA, in Three Acts entitled The BOHEMIAN GIRL............. after which (33rd time,) a NEW GRAND CHRISTMAS PANTOMIME, entitled HARLEQUIN AND KING PEPIN ............... Mr. CHARLES KEAN Having been again received with perfect enthusiasm by one of the most crowded and brilliant audiences ever assembled in this Theatre, in the character of RICHARD III he will repeat it tomorrow and EVERY MONDAY, WEDNESDAY & FRIDAY, until further notice.' The text bound within card covered with white moiré silk, with leaf and flower gilt border, the end-papers in blue and gilt with elaborate exotic bird vignettes, all edges gilt, the whole loosely contained within blue silk-covered boards, the front with a central leather panel of the royal coat-of-arms, the rear with a gilt mermaid-fountain, both boards with elaborate gilt borders, the board edges showing wear, the backstrip becoming detached, occasional marginal mark in text. The Playbill, also printed by Johnson, is silk edged with satin, c.51 x 25 cms., folded both ways, a few fox-marks otherwise in excellent state.

*COPAC records a number of copies with the same date, 1843?, plus some later editions. The quality of the binding might indicate that it came from the first performance in 1843 and the Royal coat-of-arms that it was made for the royal entourage. Alternatively, the arms might refer to the Theatre ROYAL - the silk playbill is also unusual. MICHAEL WILLIAM BALFE (1808-1870) was born in Dublin, on 15 May 1808, and died in Ware, in 1870. His wife, the Hungarian-born soprano Lina Roser, survived him for 18 years; both are buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. His musical talent and output was prodigious. He took up the violin at an early age and performed in public for the first time, aged nine, at the Rotunda Concert Rooms, Dublin. On the death of his father early in 1823, Balfe left Dublin for London where he took music lessons with Charles Horn (1786-1849) and Horn's father Karl Frederick Horn (1762-1830). In 1824 he joined the orchestra at the Drury Lane Theatre, which was then under the direction of Irishman Tom Cooke (1782-1848), whom Balfe had known from his days in Dublin. In 1825, Balfe, interested in broadening his studies first went to Paris where he was introduced to the great composers, Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), and Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), who took a personal interest in him and his musical talents. On the advice of Rossini he spend the next few years in Italy studying singing with the famous Rossini singer, Filippo Galli (1783-1853), and taking music composition lessons from Ferdinando Paer (1771-1839), in Rome. Later in Milan he studied harmony and counterpoint with Vincenzo Federici (1764-1827). He made his singing debut in Paris in 1828, sang at La Scala, Milan in 1834 and on his return to Ireland in 1838, he sang in operas and concerts. Balfe was also a prolific composer and song-writer - over the next twenty-five years in London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Trieste he composed and produced more that twenty five operas, many with great success. The Bohemian Girl -- the most famous and most lasting of them -- was first produced at the Drury Lane theatre on November 27, 1843. Performances were soon mounted in major cities world-wide. The most popular aria from this opera is still in the repertoire today and has been recorded by as diverse a company as Joan Sutherland and Enya. In addition to composing for opera, Balfe also wrote about 250 songs over a 35-year period and was considered an outstanding conductor by his peers. From 1846 to 1852 he was also the principal conductor for the Italian Opera at Her Majesty's theatre, London. He conducted Jenny Lind's (1820-87) London debut in opera and all of her subsequent performances in that city. Balfe also conducted the London premiere of Verdi's first successful opera, Nino (Nabucco). When Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), came to London in 1847 to conduct the premiere of his new opera I Masnadieri, starring Jenny Lind, after two performances he turned over his baton to Balfe to finish the run. [SEE]

W. S. Johnson, 'Nassau Steam Press'. London.

Date Published: [1843?]. 8vo.

Stock No. 61793

Price: 450.00