Le déserteur

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Le déserteur (The Deserter) is an opéra comique by the French composer Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny with a libretto by Michel-Jean Sedaine. It was first performed on 6 March 1769 by the Comédie-Italienne at their public theatre, the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris.

Opéra comique is a genre of French opera that contains spoken dialogue and arias. It emerged from the popular opéras comiques en vaudevilles of the Fair Theatres of St Germain and St Laurent, which combined existing popular tunes with spoken sections. Associated with the Paris theatre of the same name, opéra comique is not always comic or light in nature; Carmen, perhaps the most famous opéra comique, is a tragedy.

Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny French composer

Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny was a French composer and a member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts (1813).

Libretto text used for an extended musical work

A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.


The work was Monsigny's greatest musical success and is one of the key operas of late 18th century French opéra comique. It was popular in Germany and was performed in New York City in 1787. At the Paris Opéra-Comique it was performed over 300 times throughout the 19th century and up to 1911. [1] The work mixes serious and comic elements, an example of the latter being the behaviour of the drunkard Montauciel. The theme of a last-minute reprieve from execution influenced later rescue opera.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Opéra-Comique opera company in Paris

The Opéra-Comique is a Parisian opera company, which was founded around 1714 by some of the popular theatres of the Parisian fairs. In 1762 the company was merged with, and for a time took the name of its chief rival the Comédie-Italienne at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and was also called the Théâtre-Italien up to about 1793, when it again became most commonly known as the Opéra-Comique. Today the company's official name is Théâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique, and its theatre, with a capacity of around 1,248 seats, sometimes referred to as the Salle Favart, is located in Place Boïeldieu, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Palais Garnier, one of the theatres of the Paris Opéra. The musicians and others associated with the Opéra-Comique have made important contributions to operatic history and tradition in France, and to French opera. Its current mission is to reconnect with its history, and discover its unique repertoire, to ensure production and dissemination of operas for the wider public. Mainstays of the repertory at the Opéra-Comique during its history have included the following works which have each been performed more than 1,000 times by the company: Cavalleria Rusticana, Le chalet, La dame blanche, Le domino noir, La fille du régiment, Lakmé, Manon, Mignon, Les noces de Jeannette, Le pré aux clercs, Tosca, La bohème, Werther and Carmen, the last having been performed more than 2,500 times.

Rescue opera opera genre

Rescue opera was a genre of opera in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in France and Germany. Generally, rescue operas deal with the rescue of a main character from danger and end with a happy dramatic resolution in which lofty humanistic ideals triumph over base motives. Operas with this kind of subject matter became popular in France around the time of the French Revolution; a number of such operas dealt with the rescue of a political prisoner. Stylistically and thematically, rescue opera was an outgrowth of the French bourgeois opéra comique; musically, it began a new tradition that would influence German Romantic opera and French grand opera. The most famous rescue opera is Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio.


Marie-Therese Laruette
Pastel by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau Perronneau-Mme-La-Ruette-87.jpg
Marie-Thérèse Laruette
Pastel by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau
CastVoice type [2] Premiere, 6 March 1769 [3]
Alexis, a soldier baritone [4] Joseph Caillot
Louise, his fiancée soprano Marie-Thérèse Laruette
Jean-Louis, Louise's father tenor Jean-Louis Laruette  (fr )
Alexis's aunt sopranoMme Bérard
Bertrand, Alexis's cousin haute-contre Antoine Trial
Jeannette, a young peasantsopranoPétronille-Rosalie Beaupré
Montauciel, a dragoontenor Clairval (Jean-Baptiste Guignard)
Courchemin, a brigadierbasse-taille (bass-baritone)M Nainville
Three guardshaute-contre, tenor, tenorRobert Desbrosses, M Lemoyne etc.
The jailerspoken role


Alexis is engaged to be married to Louise. She plays a trick on him by pretending she is going to marry Bertrand instead. Alexis falls for the deception and deserts the army in despair. He is captured and thrown into jail to await execution. Louise goes to see the king to beg for mercy for Alexis. She receives a letter of reprieve but faints from exhaustion before she is able to deliver it. All ends happily, however, when the king arrives in person and frees Alexis.


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  1. Wolff S. Un demi-siècle d'Opéra-Comique (1900–1950). André Bonne, Paris, 1953.
  2. According to Mellace, unless otherwise stated in footnotes
  3. According to the original libretto
  4. Caillot, the first performer, was endowed with a very wide compass which enabled him to sing as a basse taille, but also to reach up to the haute-contre tones (Jean Gourret, Histoire de l'Opéra-Comique, Paris, Les publications universitaires, 1978, p. 43). According to Rodolfo Celletti "he was a baritenor and a bass at the same time": Grétry and Monsigny used to notate his parts in the bass clef, but to set them in high-baritone tessiture (Voce di tenore, Milan, Idealibri, 1989, p. 59, ISBN   88-7082-127-7).


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