Thomas Jefferson intensely loved music. It was one of the great bonds between him and his wife Martha (who died in 1782). All his life he attended concerts and before a terrible accident that lamed his right hand in 1786 he played the violin every day. We know quite a bit about concerts Jefferson attended while he was in Paris because he was a meticulous keeper of accounts including expenses for concert tickets.
There is a wonderful book that examines in depth Jefferson's musical life. It is called Thomas Jefferson: Musician & Violinist by Sandor Salgo (Professor of Music, Emeritus, Stanford University) published by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 2000. Besides a history and general discussion of Jefferson's relation to music, this book contains a Jefferson's own 1783 catalog of his music books, a list of musical items in the Jefferson Family Music Collection and a Summary of Jefferson's ticket purchases for musical events from 1784-1789 (the years he was in Paris).
I have no evidence (from his recording of ticket purchases) that Jefferson ever saw Christoph Willibald Gluck's 1766 opera, Alceste, but it was still played and popular in Europe, including France, while Jefferson was in Paris. You can listen and watch part of it in the video below. Wikipedia describes the opera's origin and performances as follows: "The second of Gluck's so-called "reform operas" (after Orfeo ed Euridice), it was first performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 26 December1767. A heavily revised version with a French libretto by Leblanc du Roullet premiered in Paris on 23 April1776. The opera is usually given in the revised version, although this is sometimes translated into Italian. Both versions are in three acts." This Wikipedia site also has a synopsis of the "story" in the acts. Reading this synopsis will give a good impression of the closenes of admired classical Greek and Roman times to Europeans of the 18th century. The site is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alceste_(Gluck))
Christoph Willibald Gluck - Alceste Act II Scene 3
Thomas Jefferson attended many concerts where one or two of Haydn's symphonies were played. We have evidence from his own hand in his recording of paying for the tickets for these concerts. The list can be found in the book by Salgo referred to at the top of this page. In the Youtube.com video below, Leonard Bernstein conducts Franz Josef Haydn's Symphony no.86 in D Major, which was written in 1786, when Jefferson was in Paris. Haydn, living in London at the time, wrote six symphonies (nos. 82-87) commissioned by the French aristocrat, the Count of Ogny. These six symphonies are known collectively as Haydn's Paris Symphonies. The recordings I have on CDs are by the Concentus Musicus Wien conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt published by BMG classics. I have taken the following description and history of these symphonies from the anonymous author at Wikipedia. You can find this Wikipedia site about Haydn's Paris Symphonies at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_symphonies . (Sorry, the sites in the article below are dead, but you can go to the original Wikipedia article and follow them there.)
Parisians had long been familiar with Haydn's symphonies, which were being printed in Paris as early as 1764. H. C. Robbins Landon writes "All during the early 1780's Haydn's symphonies were performed at the vairous Parisian concerts with unvarying success, and numerous publishing houses -- among them Guera in Lyon, Siber, Boyer, Le Duc and Imbault in Paris, etc. -- issued every new symphonic work by Haydn as soon as they could lay hands on a copy.".
The work was composed for a large Parisian orchestra called "Le Concert de la loge 'Olympique'" (Orchestra of the 'Olympic' (Masonic) Lodge). This organization consisted in part of professionals and in part of skilled amateurs. It included 40 violins and ten double basses, an extraordinary size of orchestra for the time. (Haydn's own ensemble at Eszterháza was never larger than about 25 total.). According to Robbins Landon, "the musicians wore splendid 'sky-blue' dress coats with elaborate lace ruffles, and swords at their sides." They performed in a large theater with boxes in tiers. The performances were patronized by royalty, including Queen Marie Antoinette, who particularly enjoyed the Symphony No 85, giving rise to its nickname.
The individual responsible for commissioning the symphonies from Haydn was Claude-François-Marie Rigolet, Comte d'Ogny (i.e., count of Ogny), an aristocrat still in his twenties (his life dates were 1757-1790). The Count, who was the "Intendant Général des Postes" (postal service superintendent), grew up in a very musical household, where his father kept a great collection of musical manuscripts. Patronage of music may have been an extravagance for the Count, since at his death he left a huge debt of 100,000 livres.
The actual negotiations with Haydn were carried out at Ogny's request by Joseph Boulogne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the talented leader of the Loge Olympique orchestra. Haydn was paid 25 louis d'or for each symphony plus 5 louis for the French publication rights; the sum was apparently very satisfactory from Haydn's point of view, since the lack of copyright laws had generally prevented him from profiting much from his popularity as a composer. (A note: The Chevalier de Saint-Georges was a remarkable and famous personage in 18th century France. He was a black man who was born in the Caribbean French island of Guadaloupe, emigrated to France and became famous as a swordsman, military officer and musician. You can find his biography at http://chevalierdesaintgeorges.homestead.com/page1.html . You can buy CDs of Saint-Georges' music.
Haydn: Paris Symphonies 82-87 Franz Joseph Haydn (Composer), Sigiswald Kuijken (Conductor), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Orchestra)
The following video is a recording of Je crains de lui parler la nuit, from the "opera-comique" Richard Coeur de Lion by André Ernest Modeste Grétry.
From Jeffersons list of ticket purchases we know that he saw this opera twice and attended six other performances of Grétry's operas while he was in Paris. He must have liked this composer. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia coverage of Grétry. This composer was honored by Louis XVI, found a place for himself during the Revolution and was awarded a Legin of Honor medal and a pension by Napoleon. An interesting life and a survivor.
Altogether he composed some fifty operas. His masterpieces are Zémire et Azor and Richard Coeur-de-lion - the first produced in 1771, the second in 1784. The latter in an indirect way became connected with a great historic event. In it occurs the celebrated romance, O Richard, O mon Roi, l'univers t'abandonne, which was sung at the banquet—"fatal as that of Thyestes," remarks Carlyle—given by the bodyguard to the officers of the Versailles garrison on October 3, 1789. La Marseillaise not long afterwards became the reply of the people to the expression of loyalty borrowed from Grétry's opera. Richard Cśur de Lion was translated and adapted for the English stage by John Burgoyne.
His opera-ballet La caravane du Caire, with modest turquerie exoticism in harp and triangle accompaniment, is a rescue adventure along the lines of Die Entführung aus dem Serail; premiered at Fontainebleau in 1783, it remained in the French repertory for fifty years.