Alexandre Charles Lecocq (June 3, 1832–October 24, 1918) was a French composer, one of the principal French composers of operettas after Offenbach, especially known for his La Fille de Madame Angot. Lecocq, was born in Paris, France, on June 3, 1832. A lifelong bachelor who lived with his mother, and physically handicapped from birth, he had a more serious side to his nature than the levity of his more famous works might suggest. He was admitted into the Conservatoire in 1849, being already an accomplished pianist. He studied under François Bazin, François Benoist, and Fromental Halévy, winning the first prize for harmony in 1850, and the second prize for fugue in 1852. His first operetta or opéra comique, Le Docteur Miracle, written for an operetta competition organized by Jacques Offenbach and sharing the prize with a setting of the same libretto by Georges Bizet, was performed at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens in 1857 and gained him his first notice.
After that Lecocq wrote constantly for theatres, composing six one-act operettas, but produced nothing especially successful until the three-act Fleur-de-thé (1868), which ran for more than a hundred nights. Eleven operettas followed, and Les cent vierges (1872) was also favorably received. However, all his previous successes were cast into the shade by La fille de Madame Angot (Brussels, 1872), which in Paris in 1873 was performed for more than 400 nights consecutively, toured throughout Europe and the U.S., and has since gained and retained enormous popularity. After 1873, Lecocq produced a large number of operettas, though he never equalled his early triumph in La fille de Madame Angot.
Lecocq’s opéra bouffe Giroflé-Girofla is in three acts with libretto by Albert Vanloo and Eugène Leterrier. It was first presented at the Théâtre des Fantaisies Parisiennes in Brussels, Belgium, on March 21, 1874. It opened at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris, on November 11, 1874, with Jeanne Granier in the title role. The first production at the Renaissance ran for over 200 performances up to the following October. The Brussels company took Giroflé-Girofla to London, England, where it had its first performance on 6 June 1874. Its popularity soon spread to Berlin, Germany, in 1874, then to Sydney, Australia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Prague, Czechoslovakia; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; and New York, New York (USA) in 1875.
Camille Saint-Saëns was a friend of Lecocq’s, and never ceased to admire the latter’s music. Lecocq died in his home city of Paris, aged 85, on October 24, 1918. One of the most famous of all operetta composers, considered in his time as Offenbach’s natural successor, Lecocq, who had a remarkably self-revealing correspondence with Emmanuel Chabrier, also wrote polkas, mazurkas, schottisches, other dances, and five volumes of songs, most of which never reached print. He kept alive the spirit of Offenbach in the French operetta, adapting it to the more sober style of light opera prevalent after the Franco-German war. La fille de Madame Angot has remained in the opéra comique repertoire in France and in 1947 some of the music was arranged by Gordon Jacob as a ballet, Mam’zelle Angot. Also, one sometimes hears Giroflé-Girofla.
My collection includes the following work by Charles Lecocq:
Le Fille de Madame Angot: Overture.
—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources