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Librettists

(This page is still under construction)

A list of libretto sources for English operas from 1834 to 1870 can be found at Librettos

Arnold, Samuel J. (1774-1852)

Bunn, Alfred

Chorley, Henry F.

Coape, Henry Coe(1810-1890)
Henry Coe Coape was the son of a wealthy Maldon sugar refiner and property owner. He married into the aristocracy but his cruelty, adultery and desertion led to their eventual divorce.  His next marriage fared no better and also ended in divorce.  He had started to write in 1845 with his libretto for The Fairy Oak but it was with his bankruptcy and need to earn money that he applied himself in earnest, his best known works being The Ringwoods of Ringwood (1873) and What Will Society Say? (1880). More information on him can be found at http://www.churchside1.plus.com/Goldhanger-past/Coape.htm

Dibdin, Thomas John (1771-1841)

Fitzball, Edward (1792 - 1873)

Georges, Jules-Henri Vernoy de (1799-1875)

Glover, William Howard ,  1819-1875

Jessup, Augustus Edward, 1861-1925
Jessup was born in Philadelphia but lived most of his mature life in Europe. His family had earned a fortune from papermaking and he seems to have devoted much of his his adult life to travelling and artistic pursuits. He married Mildred Marion Bowes-Lyon in 1890. He married twice more before his death in Livorno in 1925.

Only one libretto by him is known that of Ethelinda with music by his wife. He did publish privately a volume of poetry in the early 1900s entitled The Threshing Floor, some poems from which were later published by David Nutt in London in 1908.[1] Some sources, including the British Library, call him Alfred but that is incorrect according to various extant documents, including an 1895 passport application. The confusion might be because both his father and son were named Alfred.

[1] The volume has the author as A.E.Jessup but given the lack of alternative possibilities, the Arthurian flavour of some of the poems and that it was printed by C.G. Röder, Leipzig, who also printed the Ethelinda vocal score,  there can be little doubt that the author was Augustus. 

Kenney, James(1780-1849)
Kenney was born in Ireland and first made his name with his play, Raising the Wind, in 1803, after which he gave up his post in a bank for a full time literary career that he pursued for the rest of his life with varying success that was not helped by his highly nervous character. He wrote around fifty works including a number of comic operas, The Spirit of the Bell being the most ambitious. The Observer (May 3, 1835) wrote of him that "No man understands song writing, and writing for music, as Kenney".

Lemon, Mark (1809-1870)
Mark Lemon was one of the founders of Punch magazine and its long time editor. He was closely associated with and contributed to The Illustrated London News as well as writing a wide range of plays, novels and essays.  He was brother in law of the singer Emma Romer and the composer Frank Romer.  His music related work was mainly with Frank Romer. He wrote the librettos of Rob of the Fen to Romer's rearrangement of the music from Marschner's Des Falkners Braut,  and of The Pacha's Bridal (1836) and Fridolin (1841), both to original  music by Romer.  He also wrote a number of song texts.

Mackinlay, Thomas

Mitford, Mary Russell (1787 - 1855)
Mitford was a well known author and playwright, perhaps best known for Our Village. She appears to have tried her hand at only one libretto, that for Sadak and Kalasrade.  In 1852, she published an autobiography Recollections from a Literary Life (London: Richard Bentley).

Oxenford, John

Polhill, Frederick (Captain)

Ryan, Desmond

Smith, John Frederick

Sturgis, Julian 

Soane, George (1789 - 1860)
George Soane was the younger son of Sir John Soane, founder of the Soane Museum, with whom he had a bitter and prolonged quarrel. He wrote several plays and texts for musical works but The Night Dancers is his only opera libretto.

Thackeray, Thomas James (1796-1877)  (also called Thackery and Thakeray)
Thackeray was a distant relative of the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.  The Morning Post (August 26, 1834) refers to as ' a young barrister of some promise, and who, we are informed has done some pretty things in light poetry'. In fact, he had written several comedies and farces prior to the libretto both in English and in French. Drawing on his knowledge of French practice, he published a pamphlet On Theatrical Emancipation, and the Rights of Dramatic Authors (London: C. Chapple, 1832) in which he argued for a modernisation of the law, which in his and many authors' view was grossly unfair to them in denying them the proper reward for their work. Following the libretto, his literary work seems to have been mainly confined to France where he jointly authored several plays in the 1840's before switching to books in French on agricultural matters and a pamphlet on rifle marksmanship in English in the 1850's.

 



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