Happy New Year! In this group of digital scores, you’ll find operas from the first half of the 19th century, by Cherubini, Meyerbeer, and Spontini (as well as one early Donizetti libretto). Get these, and nearly 600 other scores, in our collection of Digital Scores and Libretti.

Luigi Cherubini, 1760-1842.
[Deux journées]
Les deux journées: opéra en trois actes / par le c.en Bouilly …; mis en musique par le c.en Chérubini. Paris: Gaveaux, rue St. Marc N. 10, [181-?].
Merritt Room Mus 637.1.675.2

A full score of Cherubini’s popular rescue opera (see our earlier post for a digitized copy of the vocal score).

Guillaume Gaveaux (Gaveaux ainé) was one of a family of music publishers and merchants active in Paris between 1794 and 1832; the full imprint in this copy is covered by a label reading “Chez Mme. Duhan & Cie. … Boulvard Poissoniere No. 10.” One of a number of women in the Parisian music business, Jeanne-Elisabeth Duhan was also associated with manufacture and sale of early lithographed music printed by Louise-Gabrielle Vernay’s Imprimerie Lithographique.1

Gaspare Spontini, 1774-1851.

[Vestale. Vocal score]
La vestale : tragédie lyrique en trois actes / de mr. de Jouy; mise en musique par Gaspard Spontini; réduite pour piano. Paris: Melles. Erard, [1822?].
Mus 813.2.608

A vocal score, with some instrumental cues, of Spontini’s first grand opera and greatest success, premiered – with the Empress Josephine’s patronage – at the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique on December 15, 1807.

Soon after, Jouy wrote a parody of his own work for the Théatre du Vaudeville. Read the libretto, and his account of its creation, in his collected works: La Marchande de Modes: parodie de La Vestale (full text online).

[Fernand Cortez. Vocal score]
Fernand Cortez: opéra / par G. Spontini; arrangé pour le piano. Paris: Imbault; Melles. Érard, [1809?].
Mus 813.2.623

A vocal score of the first version of Spontini’s second grand opera, premiered November 28, 1809. Napoleon had commissioned the libretto, loosely based on Cortez’s 1520 invasion of Mexico, as a propaganda piece in support of his Spanish campaigns during the Pennisular War. While the first version was withdrawn after 13 performances, a second opened in 1817 with a revised libretto to suit the political climate of the Bourbon Restoration – and with greater success.

Giacomo Meyerbeer, 1791-1864.
[Emma di Resburgo. Vocal score. German & Italian]
Emma von Roxburgh: grosse Oper in zwei Aufzügen / componirt von J. Meyerbeer; vollständiger Klavier-Auszug mit deutschem und italienischem text von J.P. Schmidt. Berlin: in der Schlesingerschen Buch- und Musikhandlung; Schlesinger, [1820?].
Mus 743.3.676

Meyerbeer’s first Venetian commission (premiered at San Benedetto, June 26, 1819), and his first international success. A German-language production opened in Berlin in February of 1820.2

Gaetano Donizetti, 1797-1848.
[Elisir d’amore. Libretto]
L’elisir d’amore: melodramma giocoso in due atti: da rappresentarsi nel Teatro Carlo Felice, l’autunno dell’anno 1833. Genova: Stamperia Arcivesovile, [1833].
Merritt Room ML51.D683 E42 1833

A libretto from one of the earliest performances of L’elisir d’amore, performed at Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice. Donizetti’s popular melodrama had opened the year before at Milan’s Teatro alla Canobbiana and was quickly produced at opera houses throughout Europe.

-Kerry Masteller

1. On 18th and 19th century music publishing in Paris, see Anik Devriès and François Lesure, Dictionnaire des èditeurs de musique français (Genève: Éditions Minkoff, 1979-1988); Cecil Hopkinson, A Dictionary of Parisian Music Publishers, 1700-1950 (London: 1954). On the Imprimerie lithographique, see Michael Twyman, Early lithographed music: a study based on the H. Baron Collection (London: Farrand, 1996): 247-254.

2. On production histories, see Alfred Loewenberg, Annals of Opera: 1597-1940, 3rd rev. ed. (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1978).