Meyerbeer, Giacomo

Giacomo MeyerbeerGiacomo Meyerbeer (5 September 1791 – 2 May 1864) was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of “grand opera.” At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.

Meyerbeer’s costly operas, requiring grand casts of leading singers, were gradually dropped from the repertoire in the early 20th century. They were banned by the Nazi regime because the composer was Jewish, and this was a major factor in their further disappearance from the repertory. However, the operas are now beginning to be regularly revived and recorded, although (despite the efforts of such champions as Dame Joan Sutherland, who took part in performances of, and recorded, Les Huguenots) they have yet to achieve anything like the huge popular following they attracted during their creator’s lifetime.

Amongst reasons often adduced for the dearth of modern productions are the scale of Meyerbeer’s more ambitious works and the cost of mounting them, as well as the alleged lack of virtuoso singers capable of doing justice to Meyerbeer’s demanding music. However, recent successful productions of some of the major operas at relatively small centres such as Strasbourg (L’Africaine, 2004) and Metz (Les Huguenots, 2004) show that this conventional wisdom is not unchallengeable.


Giacomo Meyerbeer – Wikipedia