The comic opera Le Chalet, in 1834, was the greatest success of his career: popular in France throughout the nineteenth century, it was later forgotten. Le Postillon de Lonjumeau (1836) and Giselle (1841) were also successful, but his attempt at grand opera, Richard en Palestine (1844), was given only polite attention.
By 1847, Adam was wealthy and influential enough to open his own opera house, the Opéra-National. However, during the political turmoil of 1848 ("the year of revolutions"), he had to close down -- only four months after its opening, losing not only his own investments but the capital he had borrowed. While greatly burdened by these debts, he was still popular enough that his old royalties and new compositions, including Le Toréador (1849) and Si j'étais roi (1852) enabled him to pay the debt off steadily while he supported himself with musical journalism. In 1849, Adam also became a composition professor at the Conservatoire, and by 1852, his debts were paid off. He died in 1856.
Adam's music is characterized by a Gallic charm, whether filtered through the wistful lyricism of Giselle or the worldly wit of Le Postillon de Lonjumeau (in which he satirized the world of opera). Often accused of superficiality, he admittedly had no great desire to produce innovative, deeply felt, or especially sophisticated works, and focused his energies on giving his audiences the tuneful, graceful music and vivid theatrical entertainment that they wanted.