La petite mariée

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Jeanne Granier as Graziella Jeanne-Granier-Petite-mariee.jpg
Jeanne Granier as Graziella

Le petite mariée (The Little Bride) is a three-act opéra-bouffe, [n 1] with music by Charles Lecocq and libretto by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo. It was first performed at the Théâtre de la Renaissance, Paris on 21 December 1875. The opera, set in 16th-century Italy, depicts the farcical complications after the hero is caught in flagrante with the local grandee's wife.

Charles Lecocq 19th and 20th-century French musical composer

Alexandre Charles Lecocq was a French composer, known for his opérettes and opéras comiques. He became the most prominent successor to Jacques Offenbach in this sphere, and enjoyed considerable success in the 1870s and early 1880s, before the changing musical fashions of the late 19th century made his style of composition less popular. His few serious works include the opera Plutus (1886), which was not a success, and the ballet Le cygne (1899). His only piece to survive in the regular modern operatic repertory is his 1872 opéra comique La fille de Madame Angot. Others of his more than forty stage works receive occasional revivals.

Eugène Leterrier 19th-century French librettist

Eugène Leterrier was a French librettist.

Albert Vanloo Belgian opera librettist

Albert Vanloo was a Belgian librettist and playwright.

Contents

The piece was well received and ran for more than 200 performances. It was subsequently staged in London, New York, Berlin and Vienna, but has not gained a permanent place in the operatic repertoire.

Background

In the early 1870s Lecocq had come from relative obscurity to supplant Jacques Offenbach as Paris's favourite composer of comic opera. [4] His La fille de Madame Angot , first seen in Brussels in 1872 and then in Paris the following year, had broken box-office records, and his opéra-bouffe Giroflé-Girofla (1874) had been a success in Brussels, Paris and internationally. [4] [5] Lecocq, who had been living in Brussels for some years, moved back to his native Paris, where most of his subsequent operas were premiered. [4] One of his collaborators on La fille de Madame Angot, Victor Koning, had taken over the management of the Théâtre de la Renaissance, and assembled a company headed by a singer whom Kurt Gänzl calls "the reigning queen of Parisian opérette", Jeanne Granier. [6] Lecocq was in need of another success, having failed with his two most recent shows, Les Prés Saint-Gervais (1874) and Le Ponpon (1875). [6]

Jacques Offenbach German-French composer

Jacques Offenbach was a German-French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffmann remains part of the standard opera repertory.

<i>La fille de Madame Angot</i> opéra-comique in three acts

La fille de Madame Angot is an opéra comique in three acts by Charles Lecocq with words by Clairville, Paul Siraudin and Victor Koning. It was premiered in Brussels in December 1872 and soon became a success in Paris, London, New York and across continental Europe. Along with Robert Planquette's Les cloches de Corneville, La fille de Madame Angot was the most successful work of the French-language musical theatre in the last three decades of the 19th century, and outperformed other noted international hits such as H.M.S. Pinafore and Die Fledermaus.

<i>Giroflé-Girofla</i> opera

Giroflé-Girofla is an opéra bouffe in three acts with music by Charles Lecocq. The French libretto was by Albert Vanloo and Eugène Leterrier. The story, set in 13th century Spain, concerns twin brides, one of whom is abducted by pirates. The other twin poses as both brides until the first is rescued. The composer chose an extravagantly far-fetched theme to contrast with his more realistic and romantic success La fille de Madame Angot premiered the previous year.

First performance

The piece opened at the Théâtre de la Renaissance on 21 December 1875, the first production there under Koning's management. He had commissioned lavish costumes and scenery, and engaged a first-rate company. [2] Granier, Fèlix Puget, Eugène Vauthier and Alphonsine were familiar to Parisian audiences from Lecocq's last success, Giroflé-Girofla just over a year earlier. [7] The piece was an immediate hit, and ran for 212 performances. [3]

Alphonsine French actress

Alphonsine was a French actress. She made her theatrical debut at the Gymnase-Enfantin, an entertainment venue formerly located near the Passage de l'Opéra in the 9th arrondissement of Paris.

Original cast

Podestà high officials in many Italian cities beginning in the later Middle Ages

Podestà is the name given to certain high officials in many Italian cities beginning in the later Middle Ages. Mainly it meant the chief magistrate of a city state, the counterpart to similar positions in other cities that went by other names, e.g. rettori ("rectors"), but it could also mean the local administrator, who was the representative of the Holy Roman Emperor. Currently, Podestà is the title of mayors in Italian-speaking municipalities of Graubünden in Switzerland. In Germany they call the tough man a Potestaat.

Synopsis

The setting is Italy in the 16th century.

Act I
An inn courtyard in a village a few leagues from Bergamo.

Beppo and his wife are uneasy about the furtive behaviour of three of their guests, but the three are not political conspirators as Beppo and Béatrix imagine. They are the dashing young San Carlo, his bride-to-be, and her father. They are keeping as low a profile as possible to avoid the attentions of the local potentate, Rodolpho, Podestà of Bergamo. San Carlo was once Rodolpho's favourite, until he and the Podestà's wife were caught in flagrante. Rodolpho did not exact revenge at the time, but warned San Carlo that he would repay him in kind, and cuckold him on his wedding day. Since then he has kept San Carlo at his court, under constant surveillance. San Carlo has now excused himself from attendance under the pretext of illness, and is about to marry Graziella, the daughter of Casteldémoli, a rich landowner. As witness he has recruited his trusted friend Montefiasco. As the newlyweds are leaving the chapel the Podestà arrives, to enquire about San Carlo's health. To avoid the threatened revenge, San Carlo introduces Graziella as Montefiasco's wife, a ploy that threatens to backfire as the formidable Lucrézia, Montefiasco's real wife, has also turned up. Rodolpho is much taken with Graziella, and commands that she, her father and her supposed husband, Montefiasco, accompany him to his court. Lucrezia, furious, is left behind.

Alphonsine as Lucrezia La-petite-mariee-Alphonsine.jpeg
Alphonsine as Lucrézia
Act II
The Park of the Podestà's Palace in Bergamo.

Casteldémoli has been made Rodolpho's Chamberlain, Montefiasco, captain of the pages and Graziella, reader to the Podestà. San Carlo is looking for a way out of this difficult situation. Lucrezia arrives in a rage, but Montefiasco calms her down, explaining more or less what is going on. She is sufficiently mollified to fall into his arms. Rodolpho, observing this, reasons that if Graziella's (supposed) husband can tangle with another woman, Rodolpho would not be acting unreasonably in seeking to seduce Graziella. He confides his plan to San Carlo, who can see no way of saving Graziella other than for the two of them to flee together. Their attempt to do is thwarted, and Rodolpho learns that San Carlo is married to Graziella and Montefiasco to Lucrezia.

Act III
A vestibule of the Palace.

Rodolpho has had San Carlo confined to his quarters. Alone with Graziella he has his threatened revenge in mind, but is won over by her sweetness and abandons his attempts to woo her. They agree that if she and her father give him a little property on their estate that he has long coveted, Rodolpho will release everyone and consider the matter closed, particularly as it emerges that his late wife had strayed with several others as well as San Carlo. He allows himself a small vengeance by allowing the agonised San Carlo to suppose briefly that his release has been bought at the price of Graziella's honour, but everything is eventually explained and all is well.

Numbers

Act I
Act II 
Act III

Critical reception

There was some criticism that both in plot and music the piece was reminiscent of Giroflé-Girofla, but numbers singled out for praise included the Podestà's rondo "Le jour où tu te marieras"; the "sword" couplets, "Ce n'est pas, camarade"; two successive numbers in Act II: "Donnez-moi votre main" and the "nightingale" song "Or donc en Romagne vivait"; and most particularly a duet for the hero and heroine, "Vraiment, j'en ris d'avance". [2]

Revivals

At the time of the first Paris revival (1877) Granier was unwell, and was replaced by Jane Hading. [3] There were further revivals in Paris in 1880 (with Granier), 1887, 1908, 1909 and 1921. [1] The work has rarely been staged since, although there was a brief revival at the Odeon Theatre, Marseille in 2002. [3]

Jane Hading French actress

Jane Hading was a French actress. Her real name was Jeanne-Alfrédine Tréfouret.

The piece was presented (in French) in London in 1876, and again in 1888. An English adaptation by Harry Greenbank was staged there in 1897 under the title The Scarlet Feather, with additional numbers by Lionel Monckton. A French production was given in New York in 1877. German translations were presented in Berlin in 1877 and Vienna in 1879. [1]

Notes, references and sources

Notes

  1. Kurt Gänzl and Andrew Lamb in Gänzl's Book of the Musical Theatre label the piece an opéra comique, [1] but the published score describes it as an opéra bouffe, as do contemporary reviews and Opérette – Théâtre Musical. [2] [3]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Gänzl and Lamb, p. 346
  2. 1 2 3 "The Drama in Paris", The Era, 26 December 1875, p. 10
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Petite mariée, La", Opérette – Théâtre Musical, Académie Nationale de l'Opérette. Retrieved 3 November 2018
  4. 1 2 3 Andrew Lamb. "Lecocq, (Alexandre) Charles", Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 20 September 2018 (subscription required)
  5. "The Drama in Paris", The Era, 29 August 1891, p. 9
  6. 1 2 Gänzl, p. 1166
  7. Letellier, p. 255

Sources