Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny

Born: Fauquembergues, Artois, 17 October 1729

Died: Paris, 14 January 1817


“Of all the composers of our country,” Paul Dukas wrote in 1883, “he is probably the first who had the gift of true, human emotion, of communicative expression and of the right feeling …  The frail melodies of Monsigny are no doubt nothing more than melodies, but of such moving inspiration, of such sincere accent, of such natural and charming shape that one freely ignores their feeble harmonic support and one forgives this instinctive musician, who dreamt them up, his unaffected artistry, in favor of the pleasure that he provides us.”

Monsigny devoted himself to a musical career after seeing Pergolesi‘s Serva padrona in 1754. His early works, written for the Foire theatres, include Les aveux indiscrets (1759) and Le cadi dupé (1761).  On hearing this work, the librettist Sedaine exclaimed: “Voilà mon homme!”  Their first joint work was On ne s’avise jamais de tout, performed at Fontainebleau in 1770, then at the Foire St-Laurent in 1771.  It was a favourite with Louis XV. 

His two masterpieces are Le roi et le fermier (1762) and Le déserteur (1769).


Operas

  1. Les aveux indiscrets (1759)
  2. Le maître en droit (1760)
  3. Le cadi dupé (1761)
  4. On ne s’avise jamais de tout (1761)
  5. Le roi et le fermier (1762)
  6. Le nouveau monde (composed 1763 ; unperformed)
  7. Rose et Colas (1764)
  8. Aline, reine de Golconde (1766)
  9. Philémon et Baucis (1766 or 1767)
  10. L’île sonnante (1767)
  11. Le déserteur (1769)
  12. Le rosière de Salency (1769 ; collaboration with Blaise, Duni, Philidor, van Swieten)
  13. Le faucon (1772)
  14. La belle Arsène (1773 ; revised 1775)
  15. Félix, ou l’enfant trouvé (1775)
  16. Pagamin de Monègue (refused by Opéra, 1785)
  17. Robin et Marion (unperformed)