E00792. Halèvy, Fromental. 1 ALS, 4x5.25; unsigned miniature sepia photocard, Studio ND (342) 2.5x4
“Halévy was born in Paris, son of the cantor Élie Halfon Halévy, who was the secretary of the Jewish community of Paris and a writer and teacher of Hebrew, and a French Jewish mother. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of nine or ten, in 1809, becoming a pupil and later protégé of Cherubini.
Halévy was chorus master at the Théâtre Italien, while he struggled to get an opera performed. Despite the mediocre reception of L'ARTISAN, at the Opéra-Comique in 1827, Halévy moved on to be chorus master at the Opéra.
With his opera LA JUIVE, in 1835, Halévy attained not only his first major triumph, but gave the world a work that was to be one of the cornerstones of the French repertory for a century, with the role of Eléazar one of the great favorites of tenors such as Enrico Caruso. The opera's most famous aria is Eléazar's ‘Rachel, quand du Seigneur’. It is probable that this aria was inserted only at the request of the great tenor Adolphe Nourrit, who premiered the role and may have suggested the aria's text. LA JUIVE is one of the grandest of grand operas, with major choruses, a spectacular procession in Act I, and impressive celebrations in Act III. It culminates with the heroine plunging into a vat of boiling water in Act V. Mahler admired it greatly, stating: ‘I am absolutely overwhelmed by this wonderful, majestic work. I regard it as one of the greatest operas ever created’. Other admirers included Wagner, who wrote an enthusiastic review of Halévy's grand operas for the German press in 1841 (Wagner never showed towards Halévy the anti-Jewish animus that was so notorious a feature of his writings on Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn).”