The reputation of composer Léo Delibes (1836-1891) rests upon three works above all: the ballets Coppélia and Sylvia, and the opera Lakmé. Like many French composers, Delibes’ early exposure to music was as an organist and church chorister. From there he made his way into theatre, where he worked as a composer (chiefly of operettas) and chorus director. The success of Coppélia in the early 1870s allowed him to devote himself full-time to composition. In 1876, the year in which he composed Sylvia, he was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. At the time of his death he had completed, but not orchestrated, the opera Kassya, which is based upon a story by the Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Mosach, whose name has given us the term “masochism”. Kassya was subsequently orchestrated by Jules Massenet.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra