Barbe-bleue (opera)

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Barbe-bleue (French pronunciation: ​[baʁb blø], Bluebeard) is an opéra bouffe, or operetta, in three acts (four scenes) by Jacques Offenbach to a French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy based on Charles Perrault's 1697 story.

Performance history[edit]

It was first performed at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris on 5 February 1866. Productions outside France followed swiftly: London, Vienna and Brussels in 1866, Stockholm, Berlin, Budapest, Milan and Copenhagen in 1867.[1] The operetta was given in New York City at the Grand Opera House on 24 December 1870 and seen in Sydney, Australia in 1872. It had its Czech premiere in 1874, under Adolf Čech.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, February 5, 1866,
(Conductor: Offenbach )
Barbe-Bleue tenor José Dupuis
Alvarez tenor Edouard Hamburger
Boulotte, a peasant woman soprano Hortense Schneider
King Bobêche tenor Karl Knopp
Queen Clémentine mezzo-soprano Aline Duval
Fleurette, a peasant woman (Act 1),
later Hermia, Clémentine's daughter
soprano Georgette Vernet
Oscar, the King's minister bass Pierre-Eugène Grenier
Popolani, an alchemist baritone Henri Couder
Prince Saphir tenor Paul Hittemans
Héloïse, a wife of Barbe-Bleue soprano de Géraudon
Eléonore, a wife of Barbe-Bleue mezzo-soprano Martin
Isaure, a wife of Barbe-Bleue mezzo-soprano Gabrielle
Rosalinde, a wife of Barbe-Bleue soprano Amélie
Blanche, a wife of Barbe-Bleue soprano Berthe Legrand
First peasant woman soprano Béatrix
Second peasant woman soprano Léonie
First page soprano Jenny
Second page soprano Taillefer
A clerk spoken Horton
A child spoken Mathilde
Peasants, Barbe-Bleue's guards, courtiers, pages and Bobèche's guards


Prince Saphir, in love with the flower-girl Fleurette, disguises himself as a shepherd to move near to where she lives. Fleurette loves Saphir but complains that he has not yet proposed marriage. Boulotte wants to seduce Saphir. King Bobèche does not want a female heir to his throne, and so he abandoned his daughter Hermia when she was three years old. Now that his son has gone his own way, the king remembers his daughter. He asks his minister Oscar to find her within one day. Oscar meets his old friend Popolani, an alchemist with Knight Bluebeard. It is Popolani’s charge to poison the Knight’s wives upon request (at least Bluebeard believes that he poisons them), and Popolani has been ordered to find a new wife. Boulotte, having drawn the first prize in the village lottery of virtue, is brought to Bluebeard.

Oscar finds out by chance that Fleurette is Princess Hermia, and he brings her to the happy king and queen. With the princess's identity now known, Prince Saphir comes out of hiding, removing the last obstacle to the wedding. Boulotte has become Bluebeard's sixth wife. However, Bluebeard appears at the royal wedding and falls in love with Princess Hermia. He decides to poison Boulotte that evening and to make Hermia his seventh wife. However, events take a different course.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Loewenberg A. Annals of Opera. London, John Calder, 1978.
  2. ^ Cesky hudebny slovnik; Retrieved 21 April 2013


External links[edit]