Les Dragons de Villars, Aimé Maillart

Title Les Dragons de Villars
English Title The Dragoons of Villars
Composer Aimé Maillart
Librettists Joseph Philippe Lockroy and Eugène Cormon
Language French, Dutch translation available
Genre Opéra-comique, light opera (three acts)
First performance September 19, 1856, Théâtre Lyrique, Paris
Time of action 1704 (during the reign of Louis XIV)
Place of action
  1. Farmyard, southeastern France
  2. Wild mountainous landscape with ruined chapel
  3. A village street.
Main parts
  • Thibaut, bass/baritone
  • Georgette, his wife, soprano
  • Rose Friquet (coloratura), soprano
  • Sylvain, tenor
  • Belamy, bass/baritone
Prominence of chorus Considerable
Orchestra 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani/percussion, strings
Special demands A practicable dovecote
Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Quite feasible for amateurs. The part of Rose Friquet requires an agile soprano
Length 3 acts, about 2½ hours in all

Very attractive music, beautifully orchestrated. Rose’s arias have figured in the repertoire of prominent sopranos.

Highlights: a boisterous trumpet-finale, the poignant chorus of fugitives, and a comic trio in act II (the hermit’s bell).

In the village Rose Friquet is feared and despised for her eccentric behaviour. However, it is due to her that a group of fugitive Protestants safely reaches the Savoy border, along a wild and dangerous mountain track. To delude the dragoons she plays a clever game with the bell in a ruined chapel: local superstition has it that the ghost of a hermit rings this bell whenever somebody’s wife is unfaithful. This results in an amusing scene when one of the dragoons, Belamy, has a rendez-vous with Georgette, amorous wife of a farmer in the village.
The third act takes on extra dramatic force when Rose’s lover Sylvain suspects her of having betrayed the fugitives, a misunderstanding that is happily solved at the end of the opera.

Costumes Chorus: villagers, dragoons, fugitives
Note The name Villars refers to the title of the dragoons’ commander, the Duke of Villars.
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Maillart | Knoppers