Le roi Carotte
Le roi Carotte (King Carrot) is a 4-act opéra-bouffe-féerie with music by Jacques Offenbach and libretto by Victorien Sardou, after E. T. A. Hoffmann. It premiered at the Théâtre de la Gaîté on 15 January 1872. The first run lasted 195 performances, making a daily profit of 3,000 francs, and introducing Anna Judic to a principal operetta role.
The piece required much grand spectacle and elaborate costumes, with a wide range of locations and scene changes. Although lampooning Bonapartists, monarchists and republicans, the libretto was written before the disaster of the Franco-Prussian War. The work was seen in London in 1872 and Vienna in 1876.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 15 January 1872
|Prince Fridolin XXIV||tenor||Charles Masset|
|Princess Cunégonde||soprano||Anna Judic|
|Rosée du soir||soprano||Jacqueline Seveste|
|The sorceress Coloquinte||mezzo-soprano||Mariani|
|Pipertrunck, chief of police||bass||Soto|
|Quiribibi, an enchanter||Aurèle|
|Truck, grand necromancer||bass||Alexandre|
|Baron Koffre, grand paymaster||Pierre Grivot|
|Comte Schopp, a councillor||Colleuille|
|Comtesse Schopp, his wife||Stéphane|
|Fieldmarshal Trac, a minister||Delorme|
|Young men and women, Townsfolk, Students, Knights, Armed-men, Cortege of the Roi Carotte, Carrots, Beetroots, Turnips, Radishes, Horseradishes; various merchants of Pompeii, Priests of Cybèle, Flautists, Ethiopian clowns, Guitarists and Harp-players, Syrian and Greek dancers, Slaves, Freemen, Children, Peasants, Soldiers, Townspeople, Porters of the litter; Ants, Scarabs, Grass-hoppers, Fleas, Maybugs, Cicadas, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Bees, Wasps; Musicians, Courtiers, Ladies, Waiters |
To save his kingdom's finances, Fridolin XXIV must wed a rich widow, Cunégonde. He awaits her with his ministers hoping to find out about her without revealing who he is. In the garret of the witch Coloquinte, Rosée du soir, daughter of the palatin of Moravia, has been held captive for ten years. In love with Fridolin, she manages to escape with the help of Robin-Luron. Livid, Coloquinte calls on the kingdom of vegetables to depose Fridolin. On the way back to his castle Fridolin arranges a reception in honour of Cunégonde; they recognise each other. All is going well until the arrival of King Carotte. Through the spells of Coloquinte Carotte receives all the compliments intended for Fridolin while he is blamed for all the rudeness of Carotte. Everyone begins to admire King Carotte; the armour demand vengeance on Fridolin who wants to sell it off. Fridolin is removed from the throne and sent into exile. Accompanied by his faithful followers, Truck, Pipertrunck, Rosée du soir and Robin-Luron, Fridolin, reaches the place of the old magician Kiribibi to ask for his assistance and break the spell. The magician sends them off to Pompeii to find the enchanted ring which will allow them to defeat Carotte. First he asks them to kill him to release a curse. Once returned as a young man, they leave for Pompeii. But by mistake they arrive just after the eruption of Vesuvius. After a quartet about the ruins of all civilisations, they go off again, thanks to a magic lamp, and arrive at the living Pompeii. Thanks to a depiction of railway trains, they trick gladiators and senators and depart with the magic ring. King Carotte is met by pedlars (Robin, Pipertrunck and Rosée in disguise) looking for Fridolin, who has disappeared, but cannot find him in the palace. Cunégonde meets Fridolin and steals the magic ring so that he may not destroy Carotte. The witch next sends Fridolin to the land of insects, but after a swift triumph finds himself alone again. Finally the royal band find themselves in an uprising against King Carotte, rising prices, injustice... The crowd recognises Fridolin and puts him back on the throne. Carotte is carried off by the witch.
- Lamb A. Jacques Offenbach. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London & New York, 1997.
- Jean-Claude Yon, Jacques Offenbach, Gallimard, 2000, p. 444, and footnote 29, page 722.
- Traubner R. Operetta, a theatrical history. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1983.
- Synopsis adapted from programme for Opéra Éclaté production, 2007
- Le roi Carotte, L'Académie Nationale de l'Opérette.