PIERRE-ALEXANDRE MONSIGNY (1729 - 1817)
Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny was born in Fauquembergues, a small town in the Pas-de-Calais between Saint-Omer and Montreuil, on 17th October, 1729. He was the first born of seven children of Nicolas Monsigny and Marie-Antoinette Dufresne. He studied at the Jesuit college of Saint-Omer where one of the Jesuits, Father Mollien, taught him how to play the violin. In 1748 the death of Monsigny’s father forced him to find a position to help his widowed mother and his siblings. He went to Paris and, in 1749, entered the service of Mr de Saint-Julien, the receiver general of the French Clergy. However, he pursued his musical studies with Pietro Gianotti, a double-bass player of the Paris Opéra, student of Jean-Philippe Rameau and author of a Guide du compositeur published in 1759.
His first opéra comique, Les Aveux indiscrets (The Indiscreet Confessions), was performed at the fair of Saint-Germain on 7 February 1759. It was followed by two more successes: Le Maître en Droit (The Master in Law) in 1760 and Le Cadi dupé (The Duped Cadi) in 1761. In 1768 Monsigny joined the household of the Duke of Orleans and in 1769 produced Le Déserteur which was an immediate and lasting success. Monsigny composed two more works on librettos by Sedaine: Le Faucon (The Falcon) and Felix ou l’Enfant trouvé, in 1777 which is arguably his best work. Having lost the sight in one eye due to a cataract and fearing to become blind, he stopped composing for the remaining forty years of his life and died in Paris on 14 January 1817.