E00758. Hervé, Florimond - ALS, 1-face, March 1, 1876, 4.25x5.5
“Florimond Hervé was a French singer, composer, librettist, conductor and scene painter, whom Ernest Newman, following Reynaldo Hahn, credited with inventing the genre of operetta in Paris.
Before he became musical director of the Théâtre du Palais Royal in 1851, he composed a one-act tableau grotesque, a burlesque on Don Quixote titled DON QUICHOTTE ET SANCHO PANÇA. It was conceived as a vehicle for the actor Desiré, who was short and plump, accompanied by the tall and gangling Hervé, as he was now calling himself, in order to distance his two personas. It was staged at Adolphe Adam's Opéra-National, and achieved a great success in 1848, in spite of the distracting revolution: furthermore, according to the composer Reynaldo Hahn, the farcical pot-pourri was ‘simply the first French operetta’. He had also composed musical entertainments to keep the patients entertained at the Bicêtre Hospital, and these gained the notice of producers.
Thus Hervé was the founder of a new era of French operettas. Through his Folies concertantes, a small theater stage he took over in 1854 and for which he wrote many works, he became the forerunner of the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens of Jacques Offenbach, whose early efforts he produced at his theatre, renovated as the Folies-Nouveaux. The restrictive license of the Folies concertantes permitted only spectacles-concerts, with no more than two characters, in a single act, stringencies imposed on Offenbach as well, but which encouraged Hervé to experiment with genres, before more flexible rules were established in the following decade. A jealous rivalry soon developed between Hervé and Offenbach, which was patched up only in 1878, when Hervé sang in a revival of Offenbach's ORPHÉE AUX ENFERS.”