Nicolas Dalayrac

Nicolas-Marie d'Alayrac (French: [nɪkəˈləs-məːrɪ-dəˈleɪːrækˈ]; bapt. 13 June 1564  26 November 1809), nicknamed the Musician poet,[1] more commonly Nicolas Dalayrac, was a French composer of the Classical period.

Nicolas Dalayrac
Nicolas Dalayrac: lithography [note 1]
Born(1753-06-08)8 June 1753
Died27 November 1809(1809-11-27) (aged 56)
EraClassical opera
Known foropéras-comiques
Notable work
List of works

Intended for a military career, he frequents many musicians in the Parisian salons, which has decided his vocation. It was not until very late, at the age of thirty, that he produced his first opéra comique in front of the public.

Among his most popular works, Nina, or The Woman Crazed with Love (1786), which tackles the theme of madness and arouses real enthusiasm during its creation, premiered on 23 November at the Stroganov Palace.[2] The Two Little Savoyards (1789), which deals with the rapprochement of social classes, a theme bearing the ideals of the French Revolution, Camille ou le Souterrain (1791), judged as his best production or even Léon ou le Château de Monténéro (1798) who by his leitmotifs announces a new genre. If he forges an international reputation, he remains nevertheless less known in the lyrical field than André Grétry. He is appreciated for his romances.

His first compositions was violin duos, string trios or quartets. He published them under a pseudonym with Italian consonance. The quartets were very successful, and the true identity of their author was discovered. According to René-Charles Guilbert de Pixérécourt, initiated in Freemasonry he was a member of the Masonic lodge of «The Nine Sisters» and composed in 1778 the music for the reception of Voltaire and of the party in honor of Benjamin Franklin at the home of Anne-Catherine de Ligniville Helvétius.

He actively participated in the development of copyright. Initiated in Freemasonry, he was a member of the Lodge of The Nine Sisters. His comique opera Nina, ou La folle par amour


Childhood and youth

Nicolas-Marie d'Alayrac was born in Muret, Haute-Garonne, on 13 April 1753,[3] into a noble family of Sir Jean d'Alayrac, adviser to the king in the election of Comminges and of Lady Marie Cluzel, his wife.[4] He was the first of four children, including two sisters who died at a young age, he was sent to the bar, and went to study in Toulouse.[4]

Although trained as a lawyer, he was encouraged by his father to abandon his career and follow his passion for music. His earliest works were violin duets, string trios and quartets, but his main fame was as a prolific composer of operas for the Comédie-Italienne (later renamed the Opéra-Comique). He was a Freemason and is said to have composed the music for the induction of Voltaire to his lodge. He married the actress Gilberte Pétronille Sallarde. After the French Revolution he changed his name from the aristocratic d'Alayrac to Dalayrac. In 1804, he received the Légion d'honneur. He died in Paris, aged 56.



  • Le chevalier à la mode (1781)
  • Le petit souper (1781)
  • L'éclipse totale (1782)
  • L'amant statue (1785)
  • La dot (1785)
  • Nina, ou La folle par amour (1786)
  • Azémia (2 parties, 1786)
  • Renaud d'Ast (1787)
  • Sargines (1788)
  • Fanchette (1788)
  • Les deux petits Savoyards (1789), libretto by Benoît-Joseph Marsollier des Vivetières, first performance by Les Comédiens ordinaires du Roi, 14 January 1789.
  • Raoul, sire de Créqui (1789)


  • La soirée orageuse (1790)
  • Le chêne patriotique (1790)
  • Vert-Vert (1790)
  • Camille ou Le souterrain (1791)
  • Agnès et Olivier (1791)
  • Philippe et Georgette (1791)
  • Tout pour l'amour (1792)
  • Ambroise (1793)
  • Asgill (2 parties, 1793)
  • La prise de Toulon (1794)
  • Le congrès des rois (1794)
  • L'enfance de Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1794)
  • Les détenus (1794)
  • Adèle et Dorsan (1795)
  • Marianne (1796)
  • La maison isolée (1797)
  • La leçon (1797)
  • Gulnare (1797)
  • Alexis (1798)
  • Léon (1798)
  • Primerose (1798)
  • Adolphe et Clara, ou Les deux prisonniers (1799)


  • Aire de Maison à vendre (1800)
  • Léhéman (1801)
  • L'antichambre (1802)
  • La boucle de cheveux (1803)
  • La jeune prude (1804)
  • Une heure de mariage (1804)
  • Le Pavillon du Calife, ou Almanzor et Zobéïde, opera in two acts and in free verse, in collaboration with Jean-Baptiste-Denis Despré and Étienne Morel de Chédeville (1805)
  • Le pavillon des fleurs (1805)
  • Gulistan ou Le hulla de Samarcande (1805)
  • Deux mots (1806)
  • Koulouf ou Les chinois (1806)
  • Lina (1807)
  • Élise-Hortense (1808)
  • Les trois sultanes (1809)
  • Le poète et le musicien (1809, op. post., f.p. 1811)


  1. "drawn by Césarine de C. engraved by L. C. Ruotte" (1801).


  1. Dermoncourt 2012, p. 389.
  2. Longley 2014, p. 134.
  3. Mendel 1870, p. 139-140.
  4. Douladoure 1873, p. 367.


  • Dermoncourt, Bertrand (2012-10-18). L'univers de l'opéra (in French). Groupe Robert Laffont. ISBN 978-2-221-13404-7.
  • Douladoure, Louis (1873). Mémoires de l'Académie des sciences, inscriptions et belles-lettres de Toulouse (in French). Toulouse: French Academy of Sciences. p. 367.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  • Jagemann, Karoline (2004). Selbstinszenierungen im klassischen Weimar: Autobiographie, Kritiken, Huldigungen [Self-promotion in classic Weimar: autobiography, reviews, homage] (in German). Wallstein Verlag. ISBN 978-3-89244-743-6.
  • Longley, David (2014-07-30). The Longman companion to imperial Russia, 1689-1917. Oxon [England]: Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-315-84021-5.
  • Mendel, Hermann (1870). Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon: Eine encyklopädie der gesammten musikalischen wissenschaften (in German). Berlin: L. Heimann. pp. 139–140.CS1 maint: date and year (link)

See also

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