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.
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. 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.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, February 5, 1866,
(Conductor: Offenbach )
|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
|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|
|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.
- Loewenberg A. Annals of Opera. London, John Calder, 1978.
- Cesky hudebny slovnik; Retrieved 21 April 2013
- Amadeus Almanac (5 February 1866), accessed 17 December 2008
- Boosey and Hawkes page about the operetta
- Libretto as originally submitted for censorship.
- Information about the New York production
- Information about English version