La caravane du Caire

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La caravane du Caire is an opéra-ballet in three acts by André Grétry, set to a libretto by Étienne Morel de Chédeville. Tradition has it that either the libretto was partially written[1] or the idea of it was allegedly suggested[2] by the count of Provence, who would go down in history as Louis XVIII of France.

The opera was first performed at the Palace of Fontainebleau on 30 October 1783 and had its public premiere at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, the period venue of the Paris Opera, on 15 January 1784. It was the most successful of Grétry's large-scale works that are lighter in tone: it received over 500 performances at the Paris Opera up to 1829,[1] being billed every year between 1785 and 1791, and, except for 1818, between 1806 and 1828, besides enjoying further irregular stagings during the Revolutionary period.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 30 October 1783[3]
(Conductor: – )
Osman, the Pasha of Egipt basse-taille (bass-baritone) Auguste-Athanase (Augustin) Chéron
Almaïde, the favourite of the Pasha soprano Mlle Joinville
Tamorin, the chief eunuch of the Seraglio haute-contre J. Rousseau
Husca, the chief of the caravan and a slave trader baritone François Lays
Saint-Phar, a French slave haute-contre Étienne Lainez
Zélime, a slave woman soprano Marie-Thérèse Maillard
A French slave woman soprano Josèphe-Eulalie Audinot
An Italian slave woman soprano Mlle Buret
Two Hungarians women sopranos Anne-Marie Jeanne Gavaudan, l'ainée (the elder)
Adélaïde Gavaudan, cadette (the younger)
Florestan, a captain basse-taille (bass-baritone) Henri Larrivée
Furville, a French officer baritone Louis-Claude-Armand Chardin, called "Chardiny"
Osmin, a Seraglio gard basse-taille (bass-baritone) M Moreau
Seraglio sultanas sopranos Gertrude Girardin, Marie-Anne Thaunat,
Mlles Josephine, Rosalie


Act 1[edit]

Act 2[edit]

Act 3[edit]


  • La caravane du Caire, Ricercar Academy, Choeur de Chambre de Namur, conducted by Marc Minkowski (2 CDS, Ricercar, 1992; re-released July 2008 together with extracts from Le jugement de Midas conducted by Gustav Leonhardt).
  • La caravane du Caire, Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Les Agrémens, conducted by Guy Van Waas (2 CDs, Ricercar, 2014)


  1. ^ a b Charlton.
  2. ^ a b Pitou, p. 95.
  3. ^ According to the original libretto.


  • Original libretto: La Caravane du Caire, Opéra en trois Actes, Representé A Fontainebleau devant Leurs Majestés, Le 30 Octobre 1783, Et pour la Premiere Fois, Sur le Théatre de l'Academie-Royale de Musique, Le Mardi 13 Janvier 1784, Paris, De Lormel, 1784 (accessible online as a Google ebook-gratis)
  • Period printed score: La Caravane du Caire, Opéra Ballet en trois Actes Représenté à Fontainebleau devant leurs Majestés le 30 Octobre 1783 et pour la 1ere fois sur le Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique le Lundi 12 Janvier 1784, Paris, Huguet, 1784 (accessible online at Gallica - B.N.F.)
  • Amadeus Almanac, accessed 16 August 2008
  • David Charlton: "La caravane du Caire", Grove Music Online ed L. Macy (accessed 10 May 2007),, subscription access.
  • Spire Pitou (1985). The Paris Opera: An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers. Rococo and Romantic, 1715-1815. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313243943.