La vie parisienne
This work was Offenbach's first full-length piece to portray contemporary Parisian life, unlike his earlier period pieces and mythological subjects. It became one of Offenbach's most popular operettas.
It was first produced in a five-act version at the Théâtre du Palais Royal, Paris on 31 October 1866. The work was revived in four acts (without the original fourth act) on 25 September 1873, at the Théâtre des Variétés, Paris.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast,
October 31, 1866,
(Conductor: Offenbach )
|Revised four-act version
25 September 1873
(Conductor: Offenbach )
|Bobinet, a Parisian dandy||tenor or high baritone||Gil-Pérès||Pierre Eugène Grenier|
|An employee of the railways||speaking role||Millaux|
|Raoul de Gardefeu, a Parisian dandy||tenor||Priston||Henri Venderjench|
|Métella, a demi-mondaine||soprano||Honorine||Devéria/Céline Van Ghell|
|Gontran, Métella's friend||tenor||Coste|
|Joseph, a guide||speaking role||Martal|
|Le Baron de Gondremarck, a Swedish traveller||baritone||Louis Hyacinthe Duflost||José Dupuis|
|La Baronne de Gondremarck, his wife||soprano||Céline Montaland||Juliette Grandville|
|The Brazilian, a wealthy person||baritone||Jules Brasseur|
|Alphonse, Gardefeu's valet||speaking role||Ferdinand|
|Frick, a bootmaker||baritone||Jules Brasseur|
|Gabrielle, a glovemaker||soprano||Zulma Bouffar||Zulma Bouffar|
|Pauline, a chambermaid||soprano||Elmire Paurelle|
|Prosper, a servant||baritone||Jules Brasseur|
|Urbain, a servant||baritone||Louis Lassouche||Louis Lassouche|
|Clara, the concierge's niece||soprano||Henry|
|Leonie, the concierge's niece||mezzo-soprano||Bédard|
|Louise, the concierge's niece||mezzo-soprano||Breton|
|Madame de Quimper-Karadec, Bobinet's aunt||mezzo-soprano||Félicia Thierret|
|Mme de Folle-Verdure, her nièce||mezzo-soprano||Léontine Massin|
|Alfred, a majordomo||baritone||Léonce|
|Caroline, the concierge's niece||Julia H.|
|Julie, the concierge's niece||Magne|
|Augustine, the concierge's niece||Maria|
|Albertine, a demi-mondaine||Pauline|
|Charlotte, a demi-mondaine||V. Klein|
|Chorus: Railway workers, postmen, Rail passengers, Boot-makers, Glove-makers, Waiters, Guests|
The story begins at the railway station, where the employees boast of all the wonderful places in France. Soon, Baron and Baroness Gondremarck arrive from frozen Stockholm for a Parisian holiday and ask tour guide Joseph Partout to show them the city's glittering night life. Finally, Pompa di Matadores, a Brazilian millionaire, arrives to spend a fortune in the capital.
Métella, a demi-mondaine with a heart of gold, reads a letter from Baron Gondremarck's friend, Baron Frascata asking her to give Gondremarck the same pleasure she once had given him.
At a party, the guests vow to make their pleasure long lasting as they eye one another, waiting to see who will make the first move. Bobinet rises to greet the crowd with a drinking song. The champagne flows and Baron Gondremarck (and everyone else) gets drunk. The party turns into a wild, sensual debauch.
The Brazilian millionaire is offering a masked ball. Métella, anxious to win back Gardefeu, is in league with the Baroness, who wants to extricate her husband from the perils of Parisian life. The Brazilian and Gabrielle, the pretty glover, discover the virtues of love at first sight. All ends happily.
In 1935 Robert Siodmak shot a film based on the operetta in two language versions, French and English. The stars of both MLVs were Max Dearly and Conchita Montenegro. The script was by Emeric Pressburger, the dialogues by Marcel Carné and Benno Vigny. Producer was Seymour Nebenzahl. Offenbach's music was arranged by Maurice Jaubert. The French version had its premiere on 22 January 1936 in Paris, the English version was released in August 1936.
- Amadeus Almanac (31 October 1866), accessed 17 December 2008
- Amadeus Almanac (25 September 1873), accessed 17 December 2008
- Andrew Lamb, "Vie parisienne, La" in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
- French libretto as originally submitted for censorship (Paris 1866/73).
- German libretto as originally submitted for censorship (Vienna 1867).
- Synopsis and information from NODA