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|French literary history|
Meilhac was born in the 1st arrondissement of Paris in 1830. As a young man, he began writing fanciful articles for Parisian newspapers and vaudevilles, in a vivacious boulevardier spirit which brought him to the forefront. About 1860, he met Ludovic Halévy, and their collaboration for the stage lasted twenty years.
Their most famous collaboration is the libretto for Georges Bizet's Carmen. However, Meilhac's work is most closely tied to the music of Jacques Offenbach, for whom he wrote over a dozen librettos, most of them together with Halévy. The most successful collaborations with Offenbach are La belle Hélène (1864), Barbe-bleue (1866), La vie parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867), and La Périchole (1868). Also Froufrou (1869), with Halévy.
Other librettos by Meilhac include Jules Massenet's Manon (with Philippe Gille) (1884), Hervé's Mam'zelle Nitouche (1883), and Rip, the French version of Robert Planquette's operetta Rip Van Winkle (also with Gille). Their vaudeville play Le réveillon was the basis of the operetta Die Fledermaus.
In 1888 he was elected to the Académie française. He died in Paris in 1897.