Jean-Pierre Solié


Jean et GenevieveLe Secret
Jean-Pierre Solié (also Soulier, Solier, Sollié; 1755 in Nîmes – 6 August 1812 in Paris) was a French cellist and operatic singer. He began as a tenor, but switched and became well known as a baritone. He sang most often at the Paris Opéra-Comique. He also became a prolific composer, writing primarily one-act comic operas.
His father was a cellist with the orchestra at the theatre in Nîmes, and Solié likewise learned to play the cello. But he also learned to sing and play the guitar, and became a choirboy in the cathedral. As he got older he began traveling to nearby towns in southern France, where he played cello in local theatre orchestras and supplemented his income by giving lessons in guitar and singing. In 1778 in Avignon he was called upon to replace an ailing tenor in André Grétry's La Rosière de Salency and made such a good impression, he was hired to sing tenor roles. Later he was asked to go to Paris to perform two roles with the Opéra-Comique, where he first sang in Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny's Félix on 31 August 1782 and later in Grétry's L'amant jaloux. His success was limited, and he returned to the provinces, working and singing in Nancy and Lyon.
By 1787 he was back in Paris performing minor roles, but on 26 March 1789 he replaced Jean-Baptiste Clairval with great success in the premiere of Girard de Propiac's La fausse paysanne. By this time his voice was becoming more that of a baritone. Baritones were somewhat unusual at that time at the Opéra-Comique, but the composer Étienne Méhul began creating leading baritone roles for Solié, including Alibour in Euphrosine (4 September 1790), Erasistrate in Stratonice (3 May 1792), and Jacob in Joseph (17 February 1807). Grétry also had a high regard for Solié, in particular as an actor: "l'excellent acteur, le citoyen Solier".
Solié apparently composed some music for a comedy, Le séducteur, in 1783, and it was presented at Fontainebleau on 4 November 1783. His career as a composer, however, really began in 1790 with an adaptation he prepared of Christoph Willibald Gluck's La rencontre imprévue, which Solié called Les fous de Médine, and for which he composed several original pieces including parodies of music by Henri Montan Berton and Gluck. In May 1792 he participated in a collaboration with Rodolphe Kreutzer called Le franc Breton, but his first important totally independent work came in November with Jean et Geneviève. The opera was revived several times, receiving its final performance in 1822. Solié also participated in the collaborative Revolutionary opera Le congrès des rois, a 3-act comédie mêlée d'ariettes, which was composed by order of the Comité du Salut public (Committee of Public Safety) and was hurriedly put together in just two days. The work combined music written by Solié and 11 other composers and was first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Favart on 26 February 1794. It was poorly received and was soon banned by the Revolutionary authorities.
The music historian Paulette Letailleur has written: "Although pleasant and facile, Solié’s compositional style was not assertive enough to achieve lasting success. He is, however, remembered for Le secret (103 performances between 1801 and 1814) and Le jockey, works which owe much to the librettist [François-Benoît] Hoffman, Le diable à quatre (95 performances) and for occasional pieces such as L’opéra au village (1807), written for the emperor's return and the signing of the peace."
Solié's second son, Emile Solié (9 April 1801, Paris – after 1867, Ancenis?), became an author who wrote about music (see Other sources). Emile's son Charles (died after 1912) was a conductor and director in the 1860s at the Théâtre Graslin in Nantes. Subsequently he conducted at the Théâtre-Français in Nice. He was also a composer: his comic opera Schein Baba, ou L'intrigue au harem was well received when it was performed in Nice on 5 April 1879.
This list of works for the stage was compiled from Wild and Charlton with additional works, primarily those not performed at the Opéra-Comique, from Letailleur as noted. Printed works were published in Paris. Library and shelf marks provided by Wild and Charlton are shown in parenthesis. Listings of works for which libretto and score have not been found are based on company registers or other sources. Abbreviations: AN, Archives Nationales, Paris; BMO, Bibliothèque-Musée de l'Opéra, Paris; BMR, Bibliothèque municipale de Rouen; BNF, Bibliothèque nationale de France (Départements des Imprimés, des Manuscrits et de la Musique).
Free scores by Jean-Pierre Solié at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)