Delibes, (Clément Philibert) Léo (opera)
- Hugh Macdonald
(b St Germain du Val, Feb 21, 1836; d Paris, Jan 16, 1891). French composer. His mother, an able musician, was the daughter of an opera singer and niece of the organist Edouard Batiste. Léo’s operatic career began in 1849 with his appearance in the première of Meyerbeer’s Le prophète, which employed some choristers from the Madeleine. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, but won no prizes there. He was already attracted to the theatre, working as accompanist and later chorus master at the Théâtre Lyrique, and also supplying light music for the highly successful Folies-Nouvelles. His first stage work, Deux sous de charbon, ou Le suicide de bigorneau, was an ‘asphyxie lyrique’ in one act, the first of many operettas appearing over the next 14 years. Many were written for the Bouffes-Parisiens, Offenbach’s theatre, including his second piece, Deux vieilles gardes, which enjoyed enormous success, largely through his gift for witty melody and lightness of touch....