Opera Scotland

Madame Favart

Music

Jacques Offenbach (born Cologne, 20 June 1819; died Paris, 5 October 1880)

Text

Henri Chivot and Alfred Duru.

 

Premieres

First Performance: Paris (Folies-Dramatiques), 28 December 1878.

First Performance in UK: London (Strand Theatre), 12 April 1879.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

 

Background

Any new work by Offenbach crossed the Channel quite quickly, even at this late stage in his career. The subject matter of this one is slightly more serious than usual, almost a romantic piece - opéra-comique rather than opéra-bouffe, perhaps harking back to the earlier comedies of Adam and Auber. As usual, the English translation was contributed by that indefatigable Fifer Henry Farnie.

 

Main Characters

Marquis de Pont Sable, Military Governor

Hector de Boispreau, of the Gendarmerie

Major Cotignac, of the Dauphine Musketeers

Biscotin, an innkeeper

Charles Favart, playwright and theatrical manager

Justine Favart, his wife, an actress

Suzanne, Cotignac's daughter

 

Plot Summary

The coach arrives at the inn at Arras, with Major Cotignac and his daughter, Suzanne, aboard. He wants her to marry his nephew, an idiot police-officer, and hopes to obtain for him a promotion to Lieutenant of Police at Douai. However Suzanne loves Hector. He has followed them to Arras and puts himself forward for the promotion too. The post is in the gift of the Marquis de Pont Sable.

Favart, a struggling author, has married his leading lady Mdlle Justine Duronceray, who is, innocently, the object of the affections of Maréchal Saxe. He starts to persecute them – the lady is sent to a convent, the husband is discredited financially. Favart now arrives at the inn as a fugitive and hides in the cellars. His wife immediately arrives in the disguise of a wandering minstrel, having escaped from the convent. She takes a job at the inn. Hector is also there, having failed in his job application, for the simple reason that he lacks a pretty woman to plead his case with the Marquis. Hector and Justine are old schoolmates and she decides to help him. Disguised as Suzanne and claiming to be Hector’s wife, she successfully gains him the appointment. Cotignac, too late to win the appointment, grudgingly consents to Suzanne marrying Hector.

When soldiers come to arrest Favart for debt, Hector is able to return the favour – he claims Favart and Justine are, respectively, his servant and Suzanne’s maid, and therefore above suspicion. The quartet are all therefors able to set off on the coach for Douai.

The Cast

Biscotin
 Proprietor of the Arras Tavern, the 'Grand Monarque'
Charles Favart
 Dramatic Author and struggling Manager
De Meyrac
 of the Carbineers
Fanchon
 Suzanne's Maid
Hector de Boispreau
 Employee in the Gendarmerie
Joli-Coeur
 of the Etat-Major, Camp of Saxe
Justine Favart
 Charles' Wife, an Actress
Larissole
 of the Staff
Madame de Barrois
 a Guest at Boispreau's Reception
Madame de Beaucresson
 a Guest at Boispreau's Reception
Madame de Verpillac
 a Guest at Boispreau's Reception
Madame des Ablettes
 a Guest at Boispreau's Reception
Major Cotignac
 of the Dauphine Musketeers
Marquis de Pont Sable
 Military Governor of Artois, under the MarĂ©chal Saxe
Sans-Quartier
 of the Etat-Major
Sergeant
 
Suzanne
 Daughter of Major Cotignac, later Hector's wife

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