Balfe, Michael

BORN 15 May 1808, Dublin - DIED 20 Oct 1870, Rowney Abbey
BIRTH NAME Balfe, Michael William
GRAVE LOCATION London: Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green (074/2 (22007))

Michael Balfe was taught by his father, a violinist and by composer William Rooke. In 1817 he first performed in public as a violinist. After his father died in 1823 he moved to London where he joined the Theatre Royal as a violinist. He also tried his hand as a composer and as an opera singer and in 1825 he was introduced to Cherubini in Rome.

In 1827 he appeared as Figaro at the Italian Opera in Paris. By that time he was a protégée of Rossini. For eight years he lived in Italy and during that time he met Malibran in Paris. The cantate he composed in Bologna in 1829 for the young Giulia Grisi was a success. He married the Hungarian singer Lina Roser (1806-1888) in 1831.

In 1832 he returned to London with his family. There his operas became more and more successful. Giulia Grisi sang in "Falstaff" (1838) and in 1843 he produced his greatest success, "The Bohemian Girl". From 1846 to 1852 he was the director of the Italian Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre. In 1864 he retired to Hertfordshire and he died at home in 1870.

• Wife: Roser-Balfe, Lina (1831-1870)

Related persons
• met Cherubini, Luigi
• cooperated with Grisi, Giulia
• met Malibran-Garcia, Maria Felicità

27/5/1836Premiere of Michael Balfe's opera "The Maid of Artois" at Drury Lane in London. The libretto was written by Alfred Bunn. Maria Malibran sang the part of Isoline and he had written the part with her in mind. [Malibran-Garcia, Maria Felicità]
19/7/1838Premiere of Michael Balfe's opera "Falstaff" at Her Majesty's theatre i London. It was an Italian-languag opera and the libretto was written by Manfredo Maggioni. 
27/11/1843Premiere of Michael Balfe's opera "The Bohemian Girl" at Drury Lane theatre in London. The libretto was written by Alfred Bunn. The production ran for over 100 nights. Performers included Elizabeth Rainforth and William Harrison. 
17/12/1845Premiere of Michael Balfe's opera "L'étoile de Séville" at the Salle le Peletier in Paris. It was grand opera in four acts with a librettoby Hippolye Lucas based on "La Estrella de Sevilla" (1623) by Andrés de Claramonte. Rosine Stolz sang the title part. Other performers were Marie-Dolorès Nau, Italo Gardoni and Paul Barroilhet. François Habeneck was the conductor. 
4/10/1854Marietta Piccolomini performs in Bologna in Michael Balfe's "The Bohemian Girl". It was performed in Italian. 


The grave of Michael William Balfe at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (08 Feb 2012)


• Culbertson, Judi & Tom Randall, Permanent Londoners, Robson Books, London, 1991
Encyclopedie van de Muziek, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1959
Paths of Glory, The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, London, 1997
Wikipedia (EN):
Falstaff (Balfe) - Wikipedia
L'étoile de Séville - Wikipedia
The Bohemian Girl - Wikipedia
The Maid of Artois - Wikipedia

Ball, Benjamin

Published: 21 Sep 2013
Last update: 07 Apr 2024