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[1791 - 1864]

Ouverture de l'opéra Le Prophète 

Edited by Mark Starr (2010)

Giacomo Meyerbeer

link to biography of Giacomo Meyerbeer

A demo recording of this arrangement -- realized with digital musical sounds -- will begin to play automatically upon opening this page.  If you do not wish listen to it, please click on the STOP button (or the PAUSE button) on the media player, below. You may wish to adjust the volume on your computer to a more comfortable level.

Duration: almost 11 minutes

Scene from the Metropolitan Opera's production of Meyerbeer's
Le Prophète



2 piccolos

2 flutes

2 oboes

2 clarinets (clarinets in several keys have been uniformly transposed to B-flat)

4 bassoons 

4 horns (Natural horns frequently change crooks.  They have been uniformly transposed for Horns in F.)

4 Trumpets (Natural trumpets frequently change crooks.  They have been uniformly transposed for Trumpets in C.)

3 trombones (alto, tenor, bass)



percussion (3-4 players)

bass drum


snare drum

side drum






Tenor Leo Slezak, starring as Jean, Le Prophète




Level of difficulty: This work is a dazzling showpiece for virtuoso orchestras.  While playable by semi-professional orchestras, it will strain their technical abilities. 

Year of composition: 1849

First performance(s): As of 2010, this overture has never been performed in an opera house (although during rehearsals for the Paris première of the opera, Meyerbeer heard it played at least once by the Opera Orchestra.)  Following the highly successful première of the opera (without the overture,) the numbers that Meyerbeer cut from the opera were performed in a concert in Paris -- with the exception of the Overture.  In 1866, two years after Meyerbeer's death, the Overture was played three times by the Orchestre Pasdeloup in Paris in a cut version.   These three performances were the first performances of the public work.   The work was received with considerable acclaim.  Inexplicably, the overture was not published separately -- except in a fiendishly difficult arrangement for piano by the French piano virtuoso and composer Charles-Valentin Alkan.  Subsequently, all traces of the orchestral score and parts disappeared for more than a century. 

First performance of Mark Starr's edition: not yet performed

Commercial recording of Mark Starr's edition: not yet commercially recorded

Noteworthy Musical Editions mp3 demo recording  was realized with digital musical sounds by Mark Starr.

Orchestral Score: presently available only on rental from Noteworthy Musical Editions

Instrumental parts: a complete set of parts is now on rental from Noteworthy Musical Editions. Please send us an email query about the rental/performance
fee for specific performance(s) and/or recording.


Announcing the publication of the orchestral score and instrumental parts to the long-lost Overture to Giacomo Meyerbeer's grand opera
Le Prophète -- now available on rental from Noteworthy Musical Editions.

During rehearsals for the Paris première in 1849, Meyerbeer discovered his opera contained four hours of music.  With intermissions, that would have made for a 5-hour evening!  Thus, Meyerbeer was forced by time constraints to make many cuts.  He cut not only the Overture but also several extended numbers.  He substituted a 12-bar prelude for the Overture. 

When the opera was published by Ricordi in 1850, the score did not include the Overture.  The Overture was never published separately, except in an obscure and fiendishly difficult reduction for piano (2-hands)  by Charles-Valentin Alkan.  Nor was it published following three highly successful concert performances in Paris two years after Meyerbeer died.  In subsequent decades, it was assumed by many that the orchestral version of Meyerbeer's Overture was lost.

Le Prophète became one of the most popular and widely produced operas in the second half of the 19th Century -- without its overture. 

The opera's popularity declined after the publication of Wagner's vitriolic personal attacks against Meyerbeer in the second edition of his infamous pamphlet
Judaism in Music.  Later, all of Meyerbeer's music was banned by the Nazis.

Le Prophète
has been revived several times (senza overture) in recent years to great acclaim -- most notably at the Met and San Francisco Opera. 

Only recently, Meyerbeer's original manuscript of the Overture emerged in the archives of the
Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. 

You can now hear Meyerbeer's Overture to
Le Prophète on the website of Noteworthy Musical Editions, in an online mp3 demo recording that was realized with digital musical sounds.

As will become evident upon listening to this remarkable music, Meyerbeer's Overture is a major orchestral showpiece of colossal dimensions (more than 600 bars.)  It employs a huge orchestra.  It lasts almost 11 minutes.  And it is filled with memorable themes and extraordinary orchestral effects.  For orchestral excitement and virtuosity, this works rivals the overtures of Hector Berlioz.

The Overture is highly symphonic in nature.  We at Noteworthy Musical Editions believe this overture may now become a hit on symphonic concerts.

Noteworthy Musical Editions would be most interested in reading your comments on Meyerbeer's Overture to
Le Prophète.  Please send us your observations in an email.  You can find a direct link to email Noteworthy Musical Edition on our CONTACT page.  We will post the most interesting comments on the webpage devoted to this work.