François-Louis Henry

Henri as Aboul-y-far in Le caïd, 1849

François-Louis(-Ferdinand) Henry (12 May 1786 – 22 February 1855) was a French baritone, who sang for about 35 years with the Opéra-Comique in Paris, where he created numerous leading roles. His stage name was Henri (or Henry).[1] He has also been referred to as François-Louis Deshayes.[2]

Birth and identity

He was born in Versailles with the family name of Deshayes. Relatively little is known about his life, and during his career at the Opéra-Comique he was only identified as Henry or Henri. However, it is as good as certain that he is identical with François-Louis Henry, who attended, and later taught at, the Conservatoire de Paris.[1]

Paris Conservatory

Henry first attended the conservatory as a supernumerary, beginning on 13 May 1803. He became a coach (répétiteur) without pay on 23 May 1808 and professor of singing preparation (préparation au chant) on 1 July, again without pay.[3] He was a student of Charles Simon Catel, a professor of harmony, and won a second prize in harmony in 1810.[4]

On 1 April 1816 Henry was appointed to a paid position as professor of vocalization (vocalisation).[3] Among his students were Julie Dorus (c. 1821) and Cornélie Falcon (c. 1827–1828), who both later became leading sopranos at the Paris Opera.[5] He became a professor of singing (chant) for a two-year trial (prior to 9 June 1835) and received his permanent position as professor of singing on 1 January 1837. He retired on 15 November 1842.[3]


Henri as Sulpice (1840) and Juliette Borghèse as Marie in Donizetti's La fille du régiment

The first record of Henry having sung at the Opéra-Comique is on 29 June 1813 in the premiere of Boieldieu's opera Le nouveau seigneur de village. The singer's most noteworthy creations there included Gaveston in Boieldieu's La dame blanche (1825) and Sergeant Sulpice in Donizetti's La fille du régiment (1840). He also sang at the premiere of George Onslow's opera Le duc de Guise. He continued to appear regularly with the company until 1849.[1]

On 6 December 1846 Henry sang Brander in the premiere of Berlioz's La damnation de Faust, a concert performance at the Opéra-Comique conducted by the composer. He also sang the role under Berlioz on 15 March 1847 at the Mikhaylovsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, 18 April 1847 at the Maly Theatre in Moscow, and 10 June 1847 at the Neues Königliches Schauspielhaus in Berlin.[6]

After about 1845 Henry was also active as a stage director at the Opéra-Comique.[1] His stagings included the premieres of Halévy's 3-act Les mosquetaires de la reine on 3 February 1846, Xavier Boisselot's 3-act Ne touchez pas à la reine! on 16 January 1847, Halévy's 3-act Le val d'Andorre on 11 November 1848, and Armand Limnander's 3-act Les Monténégrins on 31 March 1849.[6][7]

Henry's farewell performance was in 1850 (after his official retirement), when he performed Fortunatus in Auber's L'ambassadrice.[1]

He died in Paris.[3]

Roles created

Date Role Opera Composer Ref
29 June 1813  Le nouveau seigneur de village François-Adrien Boieldieu [1]
5 March 1816  La fête du village voisin François-Adrien Boieldieu [8]
18 October 1817  La clochette Ferdinand Hérold [1]
25 January 1823  Lord Hudson Leicester Daniel Auber [1][9]
3 May 1825  Rica Le maçon Daniel Auber [1][10]
10 December 1825  Gaveston La dame blanche François-Adrien Boieldieu [1][11]
12 August 1826  Marie Ferdinand Hérold [1][12]
28 January 1830  Mathéo Fra Diavolo Daniel Auber [1]
14 February 1831  corsaire La veillée Alexandre Paris [6]
24 May 1834  Golofkin Lestocq ou L'intrigue et l'amour Daniel Auber [13]
13 October 1835  Faribolini Cosimo ou le peintre badigeonneur Eugène Prévost [fr] [14]
9 April 1836  Gilbert Les chaperons blanc Daniel Auber [1]
13 October 1836  Biju Le postillon de Lonjumeau Adolphe Adam [15]
8 September 1837  Larchant Guise ou les états de Blois George Onslow [16]
21 March 1838  négociant Lequel? ou Le fils et orphelin Aimé Leborne [6]
30 March 1838  Pierre-le-Grand Le perruquier de la Régence Ambroise Thomas [17]
18 June 1838  Maître Birminstel Marguerite Adrien-Louis Boieldieu[18] [6][19]
31 October 1838  Sergeant Toby Le brasseur de Preston Adolphe Adam [20]
15 November 1838  John Porter Lady Melvil, ou Le joaillier de Saint-James Albert Grisar [21]
15 April 1839  3rd Neapolitan Les treize Fromental Halévy [6]
14 June 1839  Bambolino Bambolini Polichinelle Alexandre Montfort [6]
2 September 1839  Sheriff Turner Le shérif Fromental Halévy [6][22]
11 February 1840  Sergeant Sulpice La fille du régiment Gaetano Donizetti [1][6]
6 March 1841  Rebolledo Les diamants de la couronne Daniel Auber [1]
8 August 1841  Marcelin Camille ou le souterrain (revival)[23] Nicolas Dalayrac [24]
17 August 1841  L'aïeule Adrien-Louis Boieldieu [6]
1 December 1841  Doctor Magnus La jeunesse de Charles-Quint Alexandre Montfort [6][25]
17 January 1842  Babylas Le diable à l'école Ernest Boulanger [6][26]
4 February 1842  Mugnoz Le duc d'Olonne Daniel Auber [1][27]
20 April 1843  Sheriff Bolbury Le puits d'amour Michael William Balfe [6][28]
14 September 1843  John-Bred Lambert Simnel Hippolyte Monpou [1][6][29]
10 February 1844  Tomassi Cagliostro Adolphe Adam [1][6][30]
26 March 1844  Bolbaya La sirène Daniel Auber [1]
10 February 1845  Shepherd Les bergers trumeaux Louis Clapisson [6]
9 August 1845  Major Krifkraffen Le ménétrier ou Les deux duchesses Théodore Labarre [6][31]
15 May 1846  Goulard Le trompette de Monsieur le Prince François Bazin [32]
19 November 1846  Lord Catesby Gibby la cornemuse Louis Clapisson [6][33]
11 November 1848  Grand Syndic Le val d'Andorre Fromental Halévy [6][34]
3 January 1849  Aboul-y-far Le caïd Ambroise Thomas [1][35]

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