Chilpéric (operetta)

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Chilpéric is an opéra bouffe with libretto and music by Hervé, first produced in Paris on 24 October 1868 at the Théâtre des Folies-Dramatiques in Paris.[1][2] A burlesque of the medieval, Chilpéric starred Hervé in the title role.

Chilpéric by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

During a successful revival of the operetta at the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris in 1895, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec painted Marcelle Lender performing a bolero from the operetta in his painting Chilpéric.[1]

The piece was mounted in London at the Lyceum Theatre in 1870 in English starring the author and Selina Dolaro and in an adaptation by H. B. Farnie at the Empire Theatre in 1884.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 24 October 1868
(Conductor: Moreau-Sainti)
Chilpéric, King of Soissons tenor Hervé
Frédégonde soprano Blanche d'Antigny
Landry tenor Mendasti
Galswinthe contralto Berthal
Brunehaut, Sigebert's wife soprano Caroline Jullien
Sigibert, brother of Chilpéric bass Berret
Alfred soprano Léontine Gouvion
Fana mezzo-soprano Atala Massue
Don Nervoso tenor Monroy
Ricin, doctor of Chilpéric bass Ange Milher
Grand légendaire tenor Chaudesaigues
Druids, priests, the king's entourage


Chilpéric is based on the story of the Merovingian king Chilperic I, who ruled from 561-584.

In Act I, Landry, a shepherd, and his fiancée Frédégonde are discovered by a royal hunting party in the woods. Chilpéric takes a fancy to Frédégonde and brings her to court as a laundress and appoints Landry as his major domo.

In Act II, Chilpéric has taken Frédégonde as his mistress but is preparing to dismiss her in favor of marriage to Galswinthe. Landry has turned his own amorous attentions to Chilpéric's sister-in-law, Brunehaut. A forsaken Frédégonde tries to interrupt Chilpéric's marriage to Galswinthe, but is turned away. Landry and Frédégonde leave the court.

In Act III, amid various plots, Chilpéric is forced away from his marriage bed by an attack at the city gates. As plotters enter for Galswinthe, Nervoso triggers a trap door to put Galswinthe in a dungeon. Chilpéric manages to rescue Galswinthe and pardons Frédégonde.


  1. ^ a b Coman, Florence E. "Toulouse Lautrec: Marcelle Lender in Chilpéric". National Gallery of Art. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  2. ^ Gänzl, Kurt (2001-01-01). "Florimond Hervé (republished from Gänzl's Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre)". Operetta Research Center. DeLySh Design. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  • Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Chilpéric". Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).