La Fille du Tambour-Major, Jacques Offenbach

Title La Fille du Tambour-Major
English Title The Drum-Major’s Daughter
Composer Jacques Offenbach
Librettists Alfred Duru and Henri Chivot
Language French, Dutch translation available
Genre Opéra-bouffe, comic opera (three acts).
First performance 13 December, 1879, Théâtre des Folies-Dramatiques, Paris
Time of action Italy around 1800
Place of action
  1. A convent-garden at Biella
  2. The palace of duke Della Volta at Novara
  3. a. The Golden Lion, an inn in Milan
    b. A square in Milan
Main parts
  • Monthabor, drum-major, baritone
  • Robert, lieutenant, high baritone
  • Duke Della Volta, comic tenor
  • Griolet, tailor, lyric tenor
  • Stella, soprano
  • Duchess Della Volta, mezzo-soprano
  • Claudine, sutler, mezzo-soprano
Prominence of chorus Very large
Orchestra 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani/percussion, strings
Special demands A sizeable men’s chorus is indispensable. A stage-band is needed in the final act.
Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Not difficult
Length 3 acts, about 2½ hours

In this work Jacques Offenbach has expressed his loyalty to his adopted country: in manner and subject-matter it is a song of praise to France, a patriotic testament, full of typically French music. There are many ensembles, large choruses, an exhilarating ball-room scene, a fencing scene, a tarantella (danced and sung), a patriotic hymn (Le Chant du Départ), etc.


The story is amusing but complicated. A student at a convent school, Stella, falls in love with Robert, a young lieutenant, but her father, the duke Della Volta, has promised her hand to a feeble-minded old marquis. Stella, however, turns out to be a French drum-major’s daughter, not the duke’s. Eventually Stella and Robert are happily united. This is the main plot, but there are a number of sub-plots, involving the duchess Della Volta, a sutler named Claudine, her uncle Clampas, a tailor named Griolet, etc.

Costumes Schoolgirls and nuns, soldiers and officers, ball-room guests. Italian towns’- and country-folk.
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Offenbach | Fransen