Opera Scotland

Enfant et les sortilèges L'enfant et les sortilèges; The Child and the Enchantments


Maurice Ravel


Colette (Sidonie Gabrielle Colette 1873-1954)





First performance: Monte Carlo (Opéra), 21 March 1925.

First UK performance: Oxford (Town Hall), 3 December 1958.

First performance in Scotland: Aberdeen (Music Hall), 19 February 1975 (concert).

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Is a concert performance the best way to perform L'enfant? Perhaps not satisfactory, but that is better than the worst stagings, which tend to be over-whimsical or sentimental. There can be no doubt that musically it is a work of absolute genius, and delightfully redolent of the twenties in musical style. Since its British premiere by Oxford University Opera Club, the work has only had two major stagings, one at Covent Garden and the other at Glyndebourne, neither of which was revived.


Main Characters

Child (mezzo-soprano)

Mother (contralto)

Fire, Princess, Nightingale (soprano)

Arithmetic, Frog (tenor)

Two cats (mezzo and baritone)


Plot Summary

A young child (aged around six) is badly behaved, and has a tantrum when his mother leaves him alone to do his homework. The furniture and chattels in the house turn on him and start to fight back. He becomes terrified and runs into the garden. However his reputation precedes him and the animals and trees join in the complaints about his previous behaviour. During the scuffle, a young squirrel is injured and the child bandages its paw. This sign of his developing humanity encourages the inanimate objects to relent, and they help him to call his mother, who comforts him.

The Cast


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