Eugène Scribe

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Eugène Scribe

Augustin Eugène Scribe (born December 24, 1791 in Paris , † February 20, 1861 there ) was a French playwright and librettist .

Live and act

Scribe came from a family of merchants and began to study law at the Sorbonne after finishing school . He began his literary work during his studies and after his first small successes he dropped out of his studies without a degree. Scribe made his debut in 1811 with his piece Les dervis , which he wrote with Germain Delavigne , while he achieved his artistic breakthrough in 1815 with Une nuit de la garde nationale .

His plays, mostly vaudevilles , were created in an almost factory-like division of labor. Scribe provided the ideas and distributed a structured synopsis to its numerous collaborators, each of whom had a certain scene to write, the dialogues, the couplets , the jokes, etc. The main authors who wrote for Scribe were Jean-François Bayard , Roger de Beauvoir , Joseph-Xavier Boniface ( pseudonym "XB Saintine"), Nicolas Brazier , Pierre François Carmouche , Jean-Henri Dupin , Philippe François Dumanoir (called "Pinel"), Anne-Honoré-Joseph Duveyrier (pseudonym " Mélesville "), Charles Duveyrier (father of the Sahara researcher Henri Duveyrier ), Germain Delavigne, Ernest Legouvé , Michel Masson , Edouard Joseph Mazères , Charles Gaspard Poirson (pseudonym "Delestre-Poirson"), Louis Emile Vanderburch and Antoine-François Varner .

His vaudevilles formed the backbone of the Théâtre du Gymnase-Dramatique , which Scribe co-founded in 1820 . Until around 1830, Scribe experienced triumphs there almost without exception. During its heyday it was able to offer the astonished audience a premiere almost every four weeks. Most of Scribe's comedies premiered in Paris at the Théâtre Français . Scribe achieved world fame as the librettist of numerous well-known opera composers, above all Giacomo Meyerbeer ( Les Huguenots , L'Africaine ), but also Adolphe Adam , Daniel-François-Esprit Auber ( La muette de Portici ), Vincenzo Bellini , François-Adrien Boïeldieu , and Gaetano Donizetti , Jacques Fromental Halévy , Gioachino Rossini , Giuseppe Verdi and others. Often the libretti came from his colleagues, who wrote the entire text according to Scribe's instructions. The libretto for Verdi's opera Die Sizilianische Vespers , which premiered in 1855, comes from Charles Duveyrier, even if Scribe's name comes first.

With effect from November 27, 1834 Scribe was elected to the Académie française .

Scribes grave in the Pere Lachaise cemetery

When Eduard Avenarius (1809-1885) took over the management of a branch of Brockhaus Verlag in Paris in 1837 , he was asked by his brother-in-law, the composer Richard Wagner , to introduce him to Eugène Scribe. Since Scribe was not interested in any collaboration with Wagner, there was no meeting in the following year when Wagner tried to get the director of the Paris Opera , Edouard Monnaie , enthusiastic about his plans from Riga .

At the age of 69, the writer Eugène Scribe died on February 20, 1861 in Paris as a result of a stroke while driving.

In total, Scribe's work comprises over 400 titles, which, however, from today's perspective were almost exclusively adapted to current fashion and were soon removed from the program. To date, apart from the operas, only the comedy The Glass of Water, composed in 1840, has remained in the theaters' repertoire. But just because of the scope of his work, Scribe was able to dominate the French theater for over 40 years. With his short stories and feature novels, Scribe has been granted less success.

Works (selection)


  • Le verre d'eau, ou Les effets et les causes (1840, German: The glass of water, or causes and effects , in the 19th century one of the most frequently staged theater plays in Europe)
  • Flore and Zéphyre
  • Le comte Ory
  • Le Nouveau Pourceaugnac
  • Le Solliciteur
  • La Fete du mari
  • Le Mariage d'argent
  • Bertrand et Raton, ou l'art de conspirer (1833, German "Minister and silk merchant")
  • La Camaraderie, ou la courte échelle
  • Une chaîne
  • Adrienne Lecouvreur (written especially for the actress Elisabeth Felix (pseudonym "Rachel"))
  • Les Contes de la reine de Navarre
  • Bataille de dames
  • Mon étoile
  • Feu Lionel
  • Les Doigts de fée
  • La Camaraderie (1837, political satire on the July monarchy )

Novels and short stories

  • Maurice (novella, 1856)
  • Piquillo Alliaga (novel)
  • Les Yeux de ma tante (novel)

Opera libretti


  • Anselm Gerhard: The urbanization of the opera. Paris and the 19th century musical theater . Stuttgart 1992.
  • Naoka Iki: Eugène Scribes “roman feuilleton bien fait” . Wilhelmsfeld 2001.
  • Manuela Jahrmärker: Comprendre par les yeux. On the conception and reception of the work in the Grand Opéra era . Laaber 2006.
  • Manuela Jahrmärker: The libretto and opera workshop Eugène Scribe. Edition of the work plans . Wuerzburg 2015.
  • Sören Kierkegaard : First love. Comedy in one act (essay from 1843). Reprinted in: Eugène Scribe: First love or memories of childhood , from the Frz. by Reinhard Palm. Frankfurt / M. and Leipzig 1991.
  • Heinrich Laube : Eugène Scribe and our comedy (1843). In: Heinrich Laube: Theater reviews and dramaturgical essays . Vol. 1. Berlin 1906, pp. 216-223.
  • Norbert Miller : Great opera as a history painting. Reflections on the collaboration between Eugène Scribe and Giacomo Meyerbeer . In: Jens Malte Fischer (ed.): Opera and opera text . Heidelberg 1985. pp. 45-79.
  • Andreas Münzmay: Music dramaturgy and cultural transfer. A cross-genre study on the musical theater Eugène Scribes . Schliengen 2010.
  • Herbert Schneider : How did Scribe and Auber compose an Opéra comique or what does the genesis of “Fra Diavolo” teach us? . In: Herbert Schneider and Nicole Wild (eds.): The Opéra comique and its influence on European music theater in the 19th century . Hildesheim 1997, pp. 235-269.
  • Herbert Schneider and Nicole Wild: “La muette de Portici”. Critical edition of the libretto and documentation of the first production . Tubingen 1993.
  • Michael Walter: “Huguenot” studies . Frankfurt / M. 1987.
  • Sebastian Werr (Ed.): Eugène Scribe and the European music theater . Berlin 2007.

Web links

Commons : Eugène Scribe  - collection of images, videos and audio files