François-Auguste Gevaert: Quentin Durward (1858)

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  • François Auguste Gevaert
  • Quentin Durward libretto
  • Couderc as Louis XI in Quentin Duward
  • Pierre Victor Jourdan, the first Quentin
  • Antoinette-Jeanne Revilly as Queen in Auber's 'La Part du Diable'
  • Pauline Lebbe & Joris Grouwels, Isabelle & Crêvecoeur 2015

Libretto: Eugène Cormon & Michel Carré after Walter Scott
Wereldpremière: 25 maart, 1858, Opéra-Comique, Paris

World première: March 25, 1858, Opéra-Comique, Paris: Joseph-Antoine-Charles Couderc (Louis XIV – tenor), Pierre-Victor Jourdan (Quentin Durward - tenor), Jean-Baptiste Fauré (De Crêvecoeur - bariton), Barielle (Lesley – 1e bas), Beckers (Tristan - 2 e bas), Victor Prilleux (Pavillon – altus ‘Laruette’), Edmond Cabel (Le Maugrabin – tenor comique), Sophie Boulard (Isabelle), Antoinette-Jeanne Revilly (Le Comtesse Hamelin – Dugazon), Zoé Bélia (Rispah – 1e Dugazon)
Revivals: 1858 (Ghent), 1859 (Antwerp), 1865 (Stockholm), 1888 (Weimar), 1890 (Genève), 1891 (The Hague); Laatste opvoering: 1930 (Brussels)


1903 Nr. 15, Act III aria 'Qu’ils sont heureux' (Crêvecoeur)
Jean Delvoye (baritone)(Gramophone G.C.-2-32790 – 1700/ CD Yves Becko collection)

2015, 26 novemberPauline Lebbe (Isabelle), Joris Grouwels (baritone), Joshi Hermans (piano), Royal Opera Ghent, Lully Hall.
Nr. 7, Air 'Le ciel lui-même' (Isabelle)(online 401DutchOperas) 
Nr. 10, Romance 'Elle était là … je l'ai revue' (Crêvecoeur)(unpublished)  
Nr. 11, Duet 'Mon père était jadis le compagnon' (Isabelle & Crêvecoeur)(unpublished)

2016, 27 januariPauline Lebbe (Isabelle), Joris Grouwels (baritone), Jean d'Anvers (piano), Museum Vleeshuis, Antwerpen.
Nr. 7, Air 'Le ciel lui-même' (Isabelle)(Audio/video 401Concerts Nr. 2)
Nr. 11, Duet 'Mon père était jadis le compagnon' (Isabelle & Crêvecoeur)(Audio/video 401Concerts Nr. 2)

Text: René Seghers
Synopsis: RS/Annelies Focquaert (Studiecentrum voor Vlaamse Muziek)


The beautiful Isabelle de Croye escapes from the court of the Count of Burgundy, where she was held against her will. She seeks refuge with the French King Louis XI. On her way she receives help from a fierce Scottish soldier, Quentin Durward. The two fall in love with each other. Isabelle sings the aria ‘Le ciel lui-même’, at the moment when she believes herself safe in the castle of the King, who proves less reliable than she had hoped. The Burgundy Count de Crêvecoeur arrives, a far relative of the countess. He is received by the King and says he is coming to pick up Isabella. When de Crêvecoeur sees her again after a long time, he sings the romance 'Elle était là’. In their duet ‘Mon père était jadis le compagnon’ Isabelle asks him for protection, reminding him of the friendship between their respective fathers. Crêvecoeur however asks for her love. Following numerous intrigues all ends well for Isabelle and Durward, upon which Crêvecoeur laments on his lost battle with love in the aria 'Qu’ils sont heureux'.

Download fragmenten uit Quentin Durward

Our 401Concerts Nr. 2 download with Flemish opera arias and duets  was filmed and recorded on January 27, 2016, in Museum Vleeshuis, in a coproduction with the artists. Gevaerts Quentin Durward (1858) is represented in the concert with the aria ‘Enfin le Roi... Le ciel lui-même’ (Aria Isabelle) and the duet ‘Il va venir... Mon père était jadis’ (Duet Isabelle, Crèvecoeur), performed by soprano Pauline Lebbe and baritone Joris Grouwels. Other arias and duets include Jan Blockx' operas De herbergprinses and De bruid der zee, and excerpts from operas by Armand Limnander van Nieuwenhove, Emiel Wambach en August De Boeck. Some highlights can be seen in the video trailer above. The complete concert is downloadable from our 401Concerts Nr. 2 concert page. 


François-Auguste Gevaert's Quentin Durward was a triumph at its world première at the Opéra-Comique Paris on March 25, 1858, and gradually made its way to Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Switserland and The Netherlands. It continued to be performed in Belgium until 1930, when the last revival took place in Brussels. It ranks as Gevaert's best operas and the reasons for this valuation are clear to see. The Walter Scott based plot of Quentin Durward is in line with the romantic fashion of the day. With Eugène Cormon & Michel Carré he had an experienced librettist and a novice working together, but that novice, Carré, would prove to become one of the leading librettists of his time. In the 1850's, Gevaert was also on a par with the competition of his day. As is the case with Van Nieuwenhove's compositions, his music is perhaps not very original but rather following the fashion of his day, yet Gevaert's melodies are elaborate and fashionable, as can be heard here in the cantilena of Isabelle's 'Le ciel lui-même' and Crêvecoeur's romance 'Elle était là … je l'ai revue'. It is commercial music, made to please the ear, which it also does here in the voice and piano reduction as performed at a Flemish Opera concert in the Lully Hall of the Royal Opera House Ghent, in the wake of a symposium on Flemish music.

The soprano in this modern times world première of November 26, 2015 is Pauline Lebbe (Isabelle), baritone Joris Grouwels (Crêvecoeur), pianist Joshi Hermans. Along with the central duet between Crêvecoeur and Isabelle, these recordings give a further glimpse into the fascinating production facility that the Opéra Comique was in the mid 19th century, when such operas came out in unprecedented quantities. For Flanders these unique revivals are all the more important because, even though Gevaert is still known in name, very little is known of his music other than the Congo Hymn. Apart from the three excerpts from this concert, there is a 1903 78RPM recording of 'the Act III aria 'Qu’ils sont heureux' (Gramophone G.C.-2-32790 – 1700 / CD Yves Becko collection) by baritone Jean Delvoye. Finally there is a CD with Christmas songs and the 'Christmas Mass' from 1907, and then also our March 2015 recording of a student production of Le Capitaine Henriot.