Le Roi Carotte, Jacques Offenbach

Title Le Roi Carotte
English Title King Carrot
Composer Jacques Offenbach
Librettists Victorien Sardou
Language French, Dutch translation available
Genre Opérette-féerie, comic opera (three acts – eleven tableaux).
First performance January, 1872, Théâtre de la Gaîté, Paris
Time of action 19th century
Place of action
  1. a. In front of an inn, outside the city-wall
    b. A room inside a tower
    c. The royal palace, or its garden
  2. a. The wizard Quiribibi’s study
    b. The ruins of Pompeii
    c. Pompeii before its destruction
    d. The royal palace
    e. The realm of insects
  3. a. The royal palace
    b. A market-square
    c. The royal palace
Main parts
  • Fridolin XXIV, tenor or high baritone
  • Truck, necromancer, bass-baritone (comic)
  • Pipertrunck, Chief of Police, comic bass
  • Baron Koffre, Minister of Finance, 2nd tenor
  • Trac, Field Marshall, tenor
  • Robin-Luron, a genie, mezzo-soprano (trouser rôle)
  • Princess Kunigonda, mezzo-soprano
  • Rosée du Soir, coloraturo soprano
  • King Carrot, comic tenor
Prominence of chorus Large
Orchestra

2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani/percussion, strings

Special demands A military band on stage (optional)
Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Not difficult, see comment
Length 3 acts, about 2½ hours
Music

This bizarre opera is especially worth performing for the high quality of Jacques Offenbach’s music. Highlights: the finales of course; the first contains a musical fit of sneezing and a chorus of turnips and cabbages, the second a magnificent number for ants and other insects, in the third a revolution is musically represented. Then there is the dreamy aria of Rosée du Soir, the famous Valse des Rayons, a solemn Pompeii quartet and a hilarious number about railway travel. The revolution chorus has the power of a real hit.

Story

It is clear that the main character, the dissolute monarch Fridolin, stands for emperor Napoleon III. He is deposed (librettist Sardou had a prophetic mind) and succeeded by a carrot-become-human and its plebeian followers of carrots and beet-roots; by these the radicals are meant (radix = root). Guided by his good genius the exiled prince travels through space and time, visits Pompeii before it was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, and learns from the ants the meaning of hard work. Meanwhile the repulsive Carrot’s regime has proved a hundred times worse than his predecessor’s. After another revolution the prince regains his throne and Carrot and his bunch of vegetables are swallowed by the earth.

Costumes

Women: town’s women, girl-friends of students, ladies at court etc.
Men: citizens, courtiers, soldiers, students etc.
Soloists, chorus and extras: Roman costume (Pompeii), turnips, carrots and other vegetables, insects etc.

Note

The work is extravagant in many ways: eleven settings, dozens of roles, large orchestra, elaborate costumes. It is only suitable for large groups, perhaps for special festive occasions. A ballet and many figurants are recommended. But a bit of extra work and organisation will result in a very attractive political-satirical production.

Pictures
Link Wikipedia

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Tags: Offenbach | Fransen