Andre Messager

Andre Messager (cond., 1894)

[Born Montluçon, Allier, France 30 Dec 1853, died Paris 24 Feb 1929]

Andre Charles Prosper Messager's only association with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was a composer and first night conductor of Mirette, a three-act comic (some would say not so comic) opera "expressly written for the Savoy" with dialogue by Michael Carre, translated by Harry Greenbank, and lyrics by Carre and Fred E. Weatherley.   Mirette ran for just 41 performances before closing on August 11, 1894, but reopened in a revised version in October and ran for 61 more:until December 6.  It was also performed by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company on tour.  While Mirette was not generally considered a success, the fault lay primarily with the story (described by critics as "singularly destitute of interest or originality" [The Globe] and "remarkable for the feebleness of its plot and the paucity of its humour" [Vanity Fair]).

Messager had previously worked happily with Carte at the Royal English Opera House, where the composer's La Basoche (first produced in Paris in 1890) played in 1891-92.  His output included 45 works for the stage, of which eight were ballets; a symphony composed in 1875; and numerous songs and instrumental works.  Messager's most successful comic opera in England was Veronique (Apollo, May 1904-September 1905).  It had a run of 496 performances on the West End.

Readers interested in learning more about the life and works of Andre Messager are referred to "Andre Messager: A Bio-Biography" by John Wagstaff (Greenwood Press, 1991).  The story of Mirette and its production by the D'Oyly Carte is best told by Selwyn Tillett in his booklet "Mirette and His Majesty: A Study of Two Savoy Operas," published by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society, 1996.

Page modified January 30, 2002 © 2001-02 David Stone