Waltzes are Viennese in origin, right? Yes, unless they’re French. In an earlier post, The Shocking Waltz – Johann Strauss I and Joseph Lanner , we looked at the origins of the waltz in England. To fit in with the preconception, all the composers in that post were Austrian. This time around, the composers are French. As before, I’m going to be quoting from an excellent article by Cheryl A. Wilson.
Laurent Satanella Valse (publ. 1850s)
Very little is known about Henri Laurent, but he obviously kept up with the current fashions. One way to make a set of waltzes up-to-date and immediately attractive was to base them on themes from the current hot opera. In this case, it was an offering from Michael Balfe. Satanella is a four-act, supernatural extravaganza involving she-demons, lightning strikes, a thwarted wedding, pirates, and redemption. It was this sort of opera that Gilbert and Sullivan set out to skewer so successfully in their Savoy operas.