Barbe-Bleue, Jacques Offenbach

Title Barbe-Bleue
English Title Bluebeard
Composer Jacques Offenbach
Librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Language French, Dutch translation available
Genre Opéra-bouffe; light opera
First performance February 5, 1866, Paris, Théâtre des Variétés
Time of action The past
Place of action
  1. A village-square
  2. 1st tableau: A hall in the royal palace
    2nd tableau: A sepulchral vault
  3. Festive hall in the royal palace
Main parts
  • Boulotte; mezzo-soprano
  • Princess Hermia, alias Fleurette; soprano
  • Bluebeard; tenor
  • King Bobêche; comic tenor
  • Popolani; baritone
  • Prince Saphir; tenor
  • Queen Clémentine; contralto or mezzo-soprano
Prominence of chorus Lots of choral numbers
Orchestra 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, timpani/percussion, strings
Special demands None
Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Not particularly difficult. Tenor-part (Bluebeard) rather taxing
Length Normal
Music Typically Jacques Offenbach: parody of grand opera. Highlight: duet for mezzo and tenor in tomb-scene. Air of Boulotte may be transposed up, if desired

Parody of Charles Perrault’s well-known tale. In this opera Bluebeard’s wives do not die; his alchemist, Popolani, hides them in a cellar, from which they manage to escape, led by the peasant-girl Boulotte. General happy ending

Costumes Peasant- and court-dress
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Offenbach | Knoppers