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Ludovic Halévy

Librettist

Biography

French librettist and writer Ludovic Halévy (1834–1908) was a prolific librettist in opéra-comique. He is best known today for his collaborations with Henri Meilhac, on Bizet’s Carmen and numerous works for Offenbach.

Halévy was born in Paris to a prominent Jewish family (his uncle was the composer Fromental Halévy). He studied at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and worked in the civil service before turning to the stage, where he initially wrote under the pseudonym Jules Servières. For his librettos he frequently worked in collaboration with others, and had his first great success with Meilhac on Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène. In 1865 Halévy left the civil service and worked regularly with Meilhac until the latter’s death in 1897. Their collaborations together include numerous works for Offenbach, including La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein. Halévy was also a novelist, his works including La Famille Cardinal (1883). He was elected to the Académie Française in 1884.

Both Meilhac and Halévy described their partnership as a friendly one, to which Meilhac brought wit and imagination and Halévy a sense of how to construct a strong dramatic framework.