L'Aiglon (opera)

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L'Aiglon is an opera (drame musical) in five acts composed by Arthur Honegger and Jacques Ibert. Honegger composed Acts II, III, and IV, with Ibert composing Acts I and V. A 2016 reviewer described it as "a singular piece of work" with its "blend of operetta, divertissement, conversation piece, historical pageant and, in the disturbingly powerful fourth act set on the Napoleonic battlefield at Wagram, phantasmagoria peopled with living figures onstage and dead voices off".[1]


The libretto by Henri Cain was based on Edmond Rostand's 1900 play, L'Aiglon ("The Eaglet"), about the life of Napoleon II, who was the son of Emperor Napoleon I and his second wife, Empress Marie Louise.

It premiered at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo on 11 March 1937 in a production by Pierre Chéreau. The principal roles were sung by Fanny Heldy and Vanni Marcoux.[2]

At the Paris Opera that August, Heldy repeated her performance alongside Vanni-Marcoux under Ruhlmann. The work was revived there in 1952 with Géori Boué in the title role under André Cluytens.[2]

The work was revived in February 2016 at the Opéra de Marseille with Stéphanie d'Oustrac in the title role and conducted by Jean-Yves Ossonce.[3]

A 1956 French radio recording with Boué conducted by Pierre Dervaux was later issued on CD, and a full studio Decca recording under Kent Nagano, following concert performances in Montreal, was released in 2016.


At the première in Monte Carlo in 1937: Fanny Heldy (seated), Arthur Honegger (3rd from left), Jacques Ibert (2nd from right), Vanni Marcoux (1st from right)
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 11 March 1937
(Conductor: F. Wolfes)
L'Aiglon/The Duke of Reichstadt, son of Napoleon soprano Fanny Heldy
Séraphin Flambeau, his footman bass Vanni Marcoux
The French attaché tenor Victor Pujol
Countess Camerata contralto Germaine Chellet
Le Chevalier de Prokesch-Osten bass Luigi Cérésole
Maréchal Marmont baritone Robert Marvini
Prince Metternich bass-baritone Arthur Endrèze
Marie-Louise mezzo-soprano Mlle. Gadsden
Comte de Sedlinsky tenor Barone
Frédéric de Gentz tenor Fraikin
Thérèse de Lorget soprano Maria Branèze
Fanny Elssler mezzo-soprano Schirman


The Duke of Reichstadt (Napoleon II), with his faithful footman Séraphin Flambeau, escapes from Austrian imprisonment and visits the old site of the Battle of Wagram, before eventually dying of tuberculosis.


  1. ^ Max Loppert. Review of Decca recording of L'Aiglon. Opera, July 2016, Vol 67 No 7, p913.
  2. ^ a b L'Aiglon in the www.art-lyrique website accessed 24 June 2016.
  3. ^ Laurent, François. Le petit prince [review]. Diapason No.645, Avril 2016, p60.