MEHUL, Étienne. 18635



Autograph Letter Signed ‘Mehul’, to Jacques Cellerier, Directeur de l’Opera, askng for a favour in connection with Adrien, the actor, and Adrien, the opera, the necessary rehearsals, and related matters. 2 pp. 7 x 4 inches, with the address leaf, in good condition. Undated [c.1802, when Cellerier was Directeur]. Étienne Nicolas Méhul (1763-1817), French composer of operas. Adrien [Hadrian] was intended to be performed at the Paris Opera in 1792, but was banned until 1799 for political reasons. In October 1798, the Opéra decided to try again and asked Méhul to revise the work for a performance scheduled for the following year. The revision and rehearsals took place under the supervision of the Minister of the Police, Jean-Pierre Duval, who advised Méhul to drop the word “emperor” from the title. Hadrian was demoted from an emperor to a general and his triumphal march was cut. When the premiere finally took place on 4 June 1799, the critics acclaimed Adrien as a masterpiece. However, the opera’s political woes were not yet at an end. Members of the Council of Five Hundred thought the work was an allusion to Napoleon Bonaparte and the current state of France. On 16 June, the Minister of the Interior, Lucien Bonaparte, withdrew Adrien from the stage after only four performances. It only reappeared in February 1800.