Les troqueurs (The Barterers) is a comic opera in one act by the French composer Antoine Dauvergne, first performed at the Foire Saint-Laurent in Paris on 30 July 1753 and revived by the Opéra-Comique at the Hôtel de Bourgogne on 26 February 1762. The libretto, by Jean-Joseph Vadé, is based on the tale in verse of the same name by La Fontaine.
Although designated an opéra bouffon or an intermède, Les troqueurs is famous as an important work in the development of opéra comique. Since 1752, musical life in Paris had been wracked by the so-called Querelle des Bouffons, an argument between the rival partisans of French and Italian music. The Italian faction was particularly keen on comic opera (opera buffa), best represented in their eyes by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's La serva padrona. Jean Monnet, head of the Théâtre de la Foire Saint-Laurent, decided to commission Dauvergne to write a new French opera in the style of Pergolesi. The result was Les troqueurs and it was an immediate success. In his memoirs, Monnet claims he tricked the Italian faction, who were likely to reject anything by a French composer out of hand, by spreading the rumour that the opera was the work of an Italian living in Vienna who had a good knowledge of the French language. The Italian partisans were fooled and warmly welcomed Les troqueurs, although when Monnet subsequently revealed the deception they were furious.
Les troqueurs, with its simple plot, everyday characters and Italianate melodies, had a great influence on the relatively new genre of French opéra comique. Up to that point, opéras comiques had been spoken plays with songs whose words were new but whose music was not original. Dauvergne set the fashion for composing the music to these pieces afresh. Unlike most later opéras comiques, however, Les troqueurs contains no spoken dialogue. In this, Dauvergne was following the example of Pergolesi's La serva padrona.
Lubin is engaged to be married to Margot and Lucas to Fanchon, but neither man is happy with his choice so they decide to swap fiancées. At first the women are shocked but then pretend to accept this change of plan. Margot and Fanchon soon make the men regret their action and Lubin and Lucas beg them on their knees to take their former partners back. The women relent and Lubin marries Margot and Lucas Fanchon.
- Les troqueurs Mary Saint-Palais, Sophie Marin-Degor, Nicolas Rivenq, Jean-Marc Salzmann, Cappella Coloniensis, conducted by William Christie (Harmonia Mundi, 1994)
- Booklet notes to the Christie recording
- Le magazine de l'opéra baroque by Jean-Claude Brenac (in French)
- Dauvergne, Antoine. Les troqueurs, en un acte, libretto in French. (Duchesne, Paris, 1772). View at Google Books.
- The Viking Opera Guide ed. Holden (Viking, 1993)