Sophie Gail Overture Les Deux Jaloux

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Sophie Gail Overture Les Deux Jaloux Program Notes

Sophie Gail Overture Les Deux Jaloux. Composer Sophie Gail was a well-known opera singer in and around 1790s and early 1800s Paris. She composed her opera, The Jealous Two, after several songs (for voice and piano), and some one-act operas. It’s a more ambitious work, filling an evening’s entertainment (the score and script – for it has long sections of dialog – is over 120 pages long!)

The overture charms with its humorously unpredictable phrase lengths, to comic effect. The story concerns the French President, probably a post-revolutionary update on any number of somewhat silly stories of mistaken intentions by young people in country estates. There’s gossiping staff, including the gardener, and the main action concerns the love interest of the President’s niece (unmarried and attractive). From an early duet: “Speak to me, clearly,” “I wish I could!” “You enchant me!” and so on… The opera ends with the full cast singing about how a sweet and successful marriage eschews jealousy…

Paris’s Opera Comique produced the opera shortly after its completion. Her music is fresh-sounding and inventive, with echoes of Haydn, one of her contemporaries (though she was born later – the same year as Jane Austen). Gail didn’t live past her 40s, but her son, a poet, translator and musician, would go on to collaborate with Cherubini and Berlioz: he was one of the authors of the Prix de Rome librettos that all competitors would have to set to music.

Sophie Gail
Born: August 28, 1775, Paris, France
Died: July 24, 1819, Paris, France

Categories: Program Notes