Composer (1833 - 1908)
Ludovic Halévy was born in Paris on December 31st, 1833 into a family of musicians and playwrights. His father Léon was a scholar and playwright and his paternal uncle, Jacques François Halévy, was a well-known composer.
Halévy followed in the family tradition and, even though he became a government official, he started his career as a librettist in 1855, working with Offenbach. Thereafter, he wrote libretti with Hector Crémieux and Henri Meilhac for other operas and operettas. His collaboration with Meilhac was all-important because together they created the ideal libretti for Offenbach and, most memorably, also wrote the libretto to Carmen for Bizet. Among Offenbach's operas the most important are Orphée aux enfers, La Belle Hélène, La Vie parisienne, La Grande-duchesse de Gérolstein and La Périchole.
Ludovic Halévy died in Paris on May 7th, 1908.
Composer (1831 - 1897)
Henri Meilhac was born in Paris on February 21st, 1831.
After finishing his secondary school studies, he was employed in a book shop. However he also devoted himself to drawing, as well as working as a cartoonist and humorous writer with the newspapers Journal pour rire and Vie parisienne, employment in which he initially used the pseudonym Ivan Baskoff.
In 1856, he made his debut as a comedy writer in a one-act musical comedy La Sarabande du cardinal and subsequently wrote exclusively for the theatre. He created at least 115 works of various genres, including musical comedies, five-act comedies and opera libretti.
Many of his works were written in collaboration with other authors, in particular with Ludovic Halévy, and their combined literary output greatly influenced the style of comic libretti of the 19th century. Together, they wrote libretti for Offenbach, which included La Belle Hélène, La Vie parisienne, La Grande-duchesse de Gérolstein and La Périchole, the libretto for Bizet's Carmen and opera libretti for other French composers. Meilhac became very popular in England, thanks to Offenbach's operas.
Meilhac was elected a member of the Académie Française for his artistic talents in 1888.
Henri Meilhac died in Paris on July 6th 1897.