La Périchole, Jacques Offenbach

Title La Périchole
English Title
Composer Jacques Offenbach
Librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Language French, Dutch translation available
Genre Opéra-bouffe, comic opera
First performance

6 October, 1868, Théâtre des Varietés, Paris. First version (two acts)
25 April, 1874 (Second version, three acts)

Time of action 18th century
Place of action

Lima, capital of Peru.

  1. A square in Lima
  2. A hall in the viceroy’s palace
  3. A dungeon under the palace
    Same place as in first act
Main parts
  • La Périchole, mezzo-soprano
  • Piquillo, tenor
  • Don Andres de Ribeira, bass-baritone
  • Panatellas, comic tenor
  • Don Pedro de Hinoyosa, bass-baritone
  • Guadalena, soprano
  • Berginella, soprano
  • Mastrilla, contralto
Prominence of chorus Large

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 difficult
Length 3 acts, about 2½ hours

One of Jacques Offenbach’s best works, full of his characteristic humour: parody (of Donizetti), verbal tricks (aux maris ré, aux maris cal, aux maris ci, aux maris trants), stirring accellerandi, whispered singing, sound-imitation (the clink of metal in the key-ring trio), hiccups (suggesting intoxication) etc. Furthermore the Spanish rhythms of bolero and seguidilla, an Indian march, etc.


La Perichole (ch sounded as k) is a Peruvian street-singer, who, to escape poverty, agrees to become the Spanish viceroy’s mistress. She preserves her chastity and travels on (richer than she was) with her jealous but faithful lover Piquillo. The plot is well-designed and still affects and amuses modern audiences.

Costumes Eighteenth-century Spanish (courtiers and town’s people) and native Indians
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Offenbach | Fransen