Les Brigands, Jacques Offenbach

Title Les Brigands
English Title The Bandits
Composer Jacques Offenbach
Librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Language French. Dutch and English translation available
Genre Opéra-bouffe, comic opera (three acts)
First performance 10 December, 1869, Théâtre des Variétés Paris
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 flute, 1 piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani/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 Jacques Offenbach’s best works. Splendid soli; many duets, trios and grand ensembles; magnificent finales

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.
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Offenbach | Fransen