Opera Scotland

Henry F Chorley Suggest updates

Henry Fothergill Chorley.

Born Blackley Hurst, Lancashire, 15 December 1808.

Died London, 16 February 1872.

English critic, librettist and translator.

Henry Chorley is perhaps remembered now for his virulent opposition to the growing enthusiasm for the works of Wagner, which he detested. He worked as music critic for a prominent periodical, The Athenaeum, for over thirty years, and was extremely influential during that period (1836-68).

As an original librettist he provided texts for works by the leading British composers of the day, though none of them has survived in the modern repertoire. These include one of Wallace's later works, The Amber Witch (produced in London 1861) and the first two of Sullivan's stage works, Kenilworth (performed at Birmingham in 1864) and The Sapphire Necklace (unperformed, and now lost).

He also translated a number of foreign libretti into usable English versions. His adaptation of Faust held the stage for a century. None of his other translations had that kind of success - he translated more Gounod (Mireille), as well as Meyerbeer (L'étoile du Nord and Dinorah), and Gluck (Orfeo ed Euridice and Iphigénie en Tauride). But none of those operas had anything like the success or staying power of Faust.

His books include: Music and Manners in France and Germany (1841; Handel Studies (1859); Thirty Years' Musical Recollections (1862).

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