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Francis Chassaigne

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Francis Chassaigne (also known as Francisque Chassaigne) (30 October 1847 – 21 December 1922) was a Belgian-born French composer of operettas, songs, and numerous pieces of dance music for piano. The English-language versions of his operettas, Le droit d'aînesse (1883) and Les noces improvisées (1886) became very popular in Britain and the United States. Chassaigne was married to the Swiss-born operetta singer Louise Roland.
Born Désiré-François Chassaigne in Brussels in 1847, Chassaigne studied music there before settling in Paris. His first compositions were popular songs for the operetta stars of the day such as "Jeanne la Sabotière" for Thérésa and "Peureuse" for Louise Théo. By the mid-1870s he had become a prolific composer of one-act opéras bouffes and saynètes (short musical plays) for the café-concerts of Paris, most of which premiered at the Eldorado. In 1882, he was given the chance to compose his first full-length operetta by Jules Brasseur, the director of the Théâtre des Nouveautés. Dedicated to Brasseur, Chassaigne's three-act Le droit d'aînesse with a libretto by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo premiered at the Nouveautés on 27 January 1883. It was only a partial success, but its English version Falka, with a libretto translated and adapted by Henry Farnie, was popular in English-speaking countries for many years.
His second full-length operetta, Les noces improvisées premiered at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens on 13 February 1886. The English version, Nadgy (or Nadjy), with a libretto translated and adapted by Alfred Murray premiered at the Casino Theatre in New York on May 14, 1888, and again proved very popular. On the strength of these successes the theatrical producer, Rudolph Aronson, commissioned another opera directly from Chassaigne with the libretto to be written by Henry Farnie. Farnie died in 1889 having completed only an outline of the work, which he had called La Mexicana. In the end, the libretto was written by Max Pemberton, Edgar Smith, and William Lestocq, and called The Brazilian. It premiered at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne on 19 April 1890. Its American premiere followed in October of that year at Aronson's Casino Theatre in New York. However, The Brazilian did not achieve the same success as Falka and Nadgy. According to Aronson's memoirs, Chaissaigne had planned to compose a further operetta for him, based on Louis XIV at Versailles, but this was never completed.
Chassaigne was married to the Swiss-born operetta and vaudeville singer Louise Roland who appeared frequently at the Théâtre des Variétés. Both she and Chassaigne were members of Les Hydropathes, a famous Parisian literary club founded by the French writer Émile Goudeau, many of whose members where singers and stage artists. The daughter of a theatre director, Roland was born in 1851 and began performing at the age of five. She created a number of roles in the operettas of the day and was also an accomplished dancer. After her retirement from the stage, she had a successful career touring as a concert singer, often accompanied on the piano by Chassaigne. In 1912, the couple published Servatoire, described as a three-act comédie vocale (sung comedy). Chassaigne died in Le Raincy in 1922 at the age of 75. Louise Roland died sometime after 1924.