Opera Scotland

Fadette Les Dragons de Villars; The Dragoons

Music

Aimé Maillart (born Montpellier, 24 March 1817; died Moulins, 26 May 1871)

Text

J P Lockroy and Eugène Cormon.

Source

Original

 

Premières

First performance: Paris (Théâtre Lyrique), 19 September 1856.

First performance in UK: London (Gaiety Theatre), 24 June 1875.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Royal Lyceum Theatre), 28 April 1886.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Maillart was one of a group of notable French composers (including Gounod and Bizet) who studied under Fromental Halévy, composer of La Juive. Of his six operas, Les Dragons de Villars was the most successful, and it is still performed from time to time in France and Germany.

 

Main Characters

Fadette, a lively peasant girl (soprano)

Jerome, a wealthy farmer (tenor)

Georgette, his wife (soprano)

Sylvain, Jerome's apprentice (tenor)

Belamy, Lieutenant of Dragoons (baritone)

 

Plot Summary

The Dragoons have been sent by King Louis to flush out and capture a group of religious non-conformists he has been persecuting. They are less interested in this primary pursuit than they are in the pursuit of the women of the local rural community. Jerome wants to get rid of the Dragoons as quickly as possible, because of this, and particularly because his wife Georgette is seen to be a bit flighty. Fadette is a girl from the local peasant community, who is something of a livewire and mischief-maker. She loves Sylvain, Jerome's assistant. However Sylvain's principal interest is the protection and feeding of the group of religious dissidents that he has concealed in a cave in the mountains.

The comic climax arrives when Georgette takes Belamy, of the Dragoons, to a ruined hermitage in the hills (and not far from Sylvain's hiding place). Their main interest is in flirtation, but they also want to test the local legend that the ghost of the hermit has been heard to ring a bell. They have been followed by Jerome out of jealousy, and by Fadette out of mischief. Every time the young couple shows signs of inappropriate intimacy, Fadette duly rings the hermit's bell. The lieutenant at last realises where the dissidents have been hiding, and while he goes to fetch his troops, Fadette leads the community to safety through the network of mountain paths she has known from childhood. This, of course, endears her to Sylvain.

The Cast

Belamy
 Lieutenant of Dragoons
Fadette
 a poor peasant girl
Georgette
 Jerome's wife
Jerome
 a farmer
Pastor
 leader of fugitives
Sylvain
 Jerome's apprentice

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