Augustin-Alexandre (known as Saint-Aubin) D'Herbez

D'Herbez, Augustin-Alexandre (known as Saint-Aubin)

French tenor (1754-1818). Autograph letter signed. Lyon. Large 8vo. 2 pp.
$ 305 / 280 € (88529/BN58391)

Insightful letter to the administrator of the Opéra Comique in Paris, Bartolomeo Andrea Camerani (1735-1818), concerning Saint-Aubin's engagement there, his views on the competition between opera companies, and the political situation in revolutionary Lyon. Saint-Aubin was at the time engaged in Lyon, probably at the Grand Théâtre, but cites the greater proximity to his family in Paris and the situation in Lyon that "resembles Paris on a small scale" as his reasons for accepting Camerani's offer, returning the signed contract with the letter and keeping a copy, "as is customary".

His criticism of the opera in Lyon, where tragedies are staged "that make people laugh a lot", and his strong condemnation of destructive competition between too many theatre companies turn this letter into a valuable document of its time. Saint-Aubin remarks that the "competition serves nobody and I do not see that it returns a profit for art, and that ruins the entire world" (transl.). His own vision is "a new system" based on a fixed number of opera houses, financed by the communities according to their resources: "otherwise, by having too many theatres you end up not having any at all", and the artists pay the price. - Concerning the political situation in Lyon, Saint-Aubin alludes to the massacre of eight royalist officers on 9 September 1792 as "unfortunate events", expressing his hope that the city will finally calm down: "God willing, this is not a fire under the ashes ready to flare up at the first breeze". Saint-Aubin also mentions the mayoral elections in Lyon that became necessary when the former mayor Louis Vitet was elected to the National Convention: "At the moment, [Lyon] is very occupied with the nomination of the new mayor, ours being at the convention. There are two parties because, at this point, there is only the decision between two candidates. Yesterday I saw many people rushing to vote for one of them, all infinitely worried that the other one might win". The Girondin Antoine Nivière-Chol was elected mayor of Lyon on 5 November 1792. - In closing, Saint-Aubin sends greetings to Camerani's wife and the ensemble members Jean-Pierre Solié (1755-1812), Simon Chenard (1758-1831), Philippe-Thomas Ménier, and Pierre-Marie Narbonne. - With recipient's note in ink and two pinholes. Minimally stained..