Home / Works / Guelfes, Les (Gallet / Godard)

Print content of page

Guelfes, Les (Gallet / Godard)




Grand opera in 5 acts premiered at the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen on 17 January 1902.


Composed between 1879 and 1880, Benjamin Godard’s first foray into the genre of opera did not receive its first performance until after the composer’s death. Struggling to secure a production of this work in France, the composer offered it to the directors of the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Dupont and Lapissida, who were intending to stage it in 1886. They came up against opposition, however, from the work’s publisher, Léon Grus, who held the rights to the score and cited an agreement signed with the composer and librettists according to which, “in the interest of the work”, Les Guelfes could only be performed on a Parisian stage. Although other planned performances – at the Théâtre-Italien (1884), at the Éden-Théâtre (1893), and at the Opéra-Comique (1896) – did not come off, audiences and critics heard extracts of Les Guelfes duringconcerts from 1883 onwards. In this form, the work was met with great enthusiasm: “This work is becoming increasingly successful and, if the whole opera meets the promise of the extracts, everything points to a work of the greatest style“ wrote H. Barbedette in Le Ménestrel. These expectations were not disappointed when the opera received its first performance on 17 January 1902 at the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen at the instigation of directors Henrion and Melchissédec junior. Although some critics condemned Louis Gallet’s libretto for its “absence of logic, [its] lack of psychological truth, [its] want of coordination and strength” (Albert Dayrolles), the music was appreciated for its “endless torrent of melodies”, its pleasing cantilenas and many delightful passages.

    Persons - 2
  • GALLET, Louis (1835-1898)
  • GODARD, Benjamin (1849-1895)
  • Theme - 1
  • Opéra – Le grand opéra français