Michael Balfe was an Irish singer and composer. His father was a dance master and violinist and as a young boy Michael played the violin for his father’s dance classes.
At the age of nine Balfe appeared in public playing the violin and later wrote the ballad ‘Young Fanny’ later named the ‘Lover’s Mistake’. On the death of his father in 1823 he moved to London and gained a position at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and later became the lead in the orchestra. Whilst continuing to play the violin he also sought a career as an opera singer.
Aged just seventeen Count Mazzara took him to Italy where he studied composition and singing and produced his first ballet La Perouse. He became a student of Rossini and appeared as Figaro in the ‘Barber of Seville’ in Paris. Balfe wrote a few operas in Italy before returning to London where he established himself and in 1835 he wrote his first English opera; ‘The Siege of Rochelle’.
His best known and most successful opera was Bohemian Girl.
He married a Hungarian born singer who he met in Italy and had two sons and two daughters.