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Jean-François Alfred Bayard

Librettist

Biography

Jean-François Alfred Bayard (1796–1853) was a French playwright, and co-librettist for Donizetti’s opéra comique La Fille du régiment.

Bayard studied law and initially worked as a lawyer’s clerk, but his main passion from an early age was the theatre. His first successful play was La Reine de seize ans (1828). He became a close friend of the dramatist and librettist Eugène Scribe, whose niece he married. Bayard created more than 200 plays for several theatres, sometimes working alone and sometimes in collaboration, including with Eugène Scribe. He specialized in vaudevilles though he also wrote more serious works. La Fille du régiment is the only one of his librettos that has not fallen into obscurity. Although his plays were successful during his own times – and much celebrated for their witty cheerfulness – they are not performed today.

In addition to his writing career, Bayard worked for the Societé des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques, and spent a brief period as Director of the Théâtre des Variétés. He also wrote articles in literary journals, and published poems in several anthologies. He became a member of the Légion d’honneur in 1857.