Born in Paris into a family of musicians and playwrights, Ludovic Halévy followed in the family footsteps and although he had a successful career as a government official, began writing librettos in 1855. He was the first librettist to collaborate with composer Jacques Offenbach. Their first full-scale hit was Orphée aux Enfers/Orpheus in Hell (1858).
Although he worked with other opera librettists, his work with Meilhac was precious and the two became the most successful opera librettists of all time. Their Offenbach operettas were translated into numerous languages, becoming the first musicals to enjoy international multi-lingual success.