Les Brigands

Title Les Brigands (The Brigands)
Composer Jacques Offenbach (1819 – 1880)
Librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Genre Opéra-bouffe, comic opera (three acts).
First performance Théâtre des Variétés Paris, 10 December, 1869.
Time of action 18th century.
Place of action
  1. Italian mountainous landscape
  2. An inn on the road from Granada to Mantua
  3. The Duke of Mantua’s palace.
Main parts Ernesto Falsacappa tenor
Fiorella, his daughter soprano
Fragoletto, her lover mezzo-soprano
Treasurer comic tenor
Prominence of chorus Very large.
Orchestra 1 flutes, 1 piccolo, 2 oboe, 2 clarinet,
2 bassoon, 4 French horn, 2 trumpet,
3 trombone, kettle-drums, percussion, strings. Behind the scenery: 1 French horn (and trumpets).
Special demands A great many soloists. Treasurer should be able to sing in falsetto. Fragoletto is a trouser rôle. Several times the chorus is split up.
Full score and orchestral parts Orchestral parts and full score available.
Level Not difficult, but long and scenically rather complicated.
Length 3 acts, at least 2½ hours in all.
Music One of Offenbach’s best works. Splendid soli; many duets, trios and grand ensembles; magnificent finales.
Story Ingenious comical plot. Chief brigand Falsacappa intends to modernize his trade: no more small business, but grand-scale robberies. He plans a highly complicated campaign which, though giving rise to a lot of comic confusions, runs smoothly for a while but goes hopelessly wrong in the end. Moral: the true bandits are to be found not in the forest but in the leading circles of society.
Costumes Robbers, peasant-women, carabineers, inn-personnel, Spanish and Italian lords and ladies, courtiers etc.
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