Amélie-Julie Candeille (night of 30/31 July 1767, parish of Saint-Sulpice, Paris – 4 February 1834, Paris) was a French composer, librettist, writer, singer, actress, comedian, and instrumentalist.
Julie Candeille described herself in her Mémoires as having "bright blonde hair, brown eyes, white, fine and clear skin, [and] a soft and laughing air". According to her colleague Louise Fusil, Candeille was pretty, with "a well-taken size, a noble gait, [and] traits and whiteness as held by creole women". Her ancestry was actually Flemish, with no known Creole elements,
Candeille, like many women musicians of her time, came from a musical family. Her father Pierre-Joseph Candeille (1744–1827) was a composer, actor and low-bass opera-singer in the chorus, though he ended up exiled in Moulins where he became a theatre director. Her father was her primary teacher, and some have speculated that his deeply invested interest in his daughter's education was an effort to bolster his career. Candeille developed her natural talents for song and harpsichord and performed extensively while still a child in chamber orchestras. Aged 7 she played in a concert before the French king and she was said to have played a concert alongside the teenage Mozart. By the age of 13 she had performed in public as a singer, pianist and harpist. Aged 14, she was initiated into the "La Candeur" masonic lodge, in which she met several playwrights such as Olympe de Gouges and other influential figures who favoured her artistic career in Parisian society and the intrigues of the dying ancien régime. In her Mémoires, she records how she benefitted from protection by powerful figures such as the marquis de Louvois (an anti-establishment aristocrat and intimate friend of the chevalier de Champcenetz who was, like him, sent to the fort de Ham for misconduct), the music-loving duchesse de Villeroy (who led a mainly female salon whose influence also extended into the theatre), and the baron de Breteuil (minister of the king's household and possibly a lover of Candeille).
Through the influence of her protectors, at the age of 15 she debuted at the Académie royale de Musique on 27 December 1782 in the title role of Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide, in which she had only moderate success. At 16 Candeille made her fortepiano debut at the Concert Spirituel, where she performed a concerto by Clementi-–by this time she was also already composing sonatas, romances and airs for the harpsichord and piano, some of which have recently been rediscovered. Aged 17 she debuted a concerto that she composed. A reporter from the Mercure de France said:
Miss Candeille, who has a very pleasing face and figure, brings to a special talent for the fortepiano, acquired as a composer, new claims to applause. The concerto, which she performed very well, is charmingly cast, and she cannot be too much encouraged in the cultivation of an art in which she promises so well.
In order to support her family, Candeille returned to the stage. She did not have a voice which could challenge Mme Saint-Huberty in the opera (Saint-Huberty had succeeded Mlle Levasseur and Mlle Laguerre), so she returned to the Comédie-Française on Monday 19 September 1785 as Hermione in Racine's Andromaque, receiving mixed reviews. During this time Molé was the protector of both Candeille and her friend Olympe de Gouge. Her strong personality and original ideas did not gain her friends and she was always held in low esteem by her colleagues in the Comédie française such as Molé, Dazincourt, Fleury or Mlle Louise Contat, who regarded her just as one of the Versailles courtesans. Candeille joined Talma and those among his actors who welcomed the French Revolution in 1789.
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