Masse, Felix Marie Victor



French opera composer; born at Lorient. At the age of twelve he entered the Conservatory, where he won the first prizes for fugue, harmony and piano. He studied with Halevy, and in 1844 won the Grand Prize of Rome for a composition. In 1845 his cantata, Le Renegat, was well received, being performed three times before the public, and in 1846, Messe Solennelle, which he composed in Rome, was given successfully at the Church of St. Louis des François. After two years in Rome, and travel through Italy and Germany, he returned to Paris and began his career as a writer of operas. His first dramatic composition, La Chambre gothique, was a decided success, as were La Chanteuse violee, Galathee, Les Noces de Jeannette and La Reine Topaze, which followed. His other operas, La Fiancee du Diable; Miss Fauvette; Les Saisons; Les Chaises a porteus; La Fee Carabosse; Mariette la Promise; La Mule de Pedro; Fior d'Aliza and Les Fils du Briga- dier, all succeeded for a time but did not long hold the interest of the public. In 1860 Masse was made chorusmaster at the Academy of Music. In 1860 he became professor of composition at the Conservatory in Leborne's place, and in 1872 he succeeded Auber at the Institut. The work of these institutions occupied so much time that he practically abandoned composition until 1876, when Paul and Virginia appeared. Ill health caused him to resign from the Academy in 1876, after which his com position, La Mort de Cleopatre, was written. In 1877 he became a member of the Legion of Honor. Beside the works mentioned he has written the operas, La Favorita e la Schiava; Le Cousin Maribaux; two operettas, Une loi Somptuaire, and Le Prix de Famijle, as well as three collections containing twenty songs each. Most of his work was produced at the Opera Comique, where for a short time it was successful, but was soon forgotten. His operas are pleasing and melodious, often containing charming little songs, but lacking in force and originality.