Africaine, L’ (‘The African Maid’)
- Steven Huebner
(‘The African Maid’)
Grand opera in five acts by Giacomo Meyerbeer to a libretto by Eugène Scribe ; Paris, Opéra, 28 April 1865.
The genesis of L’Africaine is more complex than that of any other Meyerbeer opera. A first contract between Meyerbeer and Scribe for the production of the libretto was signed in May 1837; the point of departure for the plot seems to have been ‘Le mancenillier’, a poem by Millevoye about a young girl who sits under a tree that emits poisonous fragrances and is rescued by her lover. Doubts about the viability of the libretto, and the illness of Cornélie Falcon, for whom the title role was intended, caused Meyerbeer to abandon the project in favour of Le prophète in summer 1838. He returned to L’Africaine at the end of 1841, when the draft of Le prophète was almost complete. L’Africaine was set aside when Meyerbeer completed a draft in 1843...