Mélesville [Duveyrier, Anne-Honoré-Joseph]
- Christopher Smith
(b Paris, Dec 13, 1787; d Marly, Nov 7, 1865). French dramatist and librettist. He initially embarked on a career in law, entering the magistrature after only two years’ practice as an advocate. He resigned his position in 1815 to devote himself to writing for the Paris stage, having already enjoyed some success at the Théâtre de l’Impératrice with his one-act comedy L’oncle rival in 1811. Like many of the French dramatists of the day he adopted a pseudonym, although it is doubtful whether many would have been unaware of the true identity of ‘Mélesville’. Over a period of no less than half a century he wrote some three hundred plays of every description: comedies, comédies-vaudevilles, mélodrames (generally described as being à grand spectacle), mélodrames comiques, historical romances and others. They were all forms of popular dramatic entertainment with music that gave Parisian audiences an evening’s undemanding, ephemeral entertainment. He was always willing to work with various collaborators, among whom by far the most prominent was Eugène Scribe. Scribe was also the most distinguished of the librettists with whom Mélesville was associated when he turned to devising opera and ...