La caverne

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This article is about the opera by Le Sueur. For the opera by Méhul, see La caverne (Méhul). For the album by Quebec rock band Malajube, see La caverne (album).

La caverne, ou Le repentir (English: The Cavern, or Repentance) is an opera in three acts by the French composer Jean-François Le Sueur. It was first performed at the Théâtre Feydeau, Paris on 16 February 1793. The libretto, by Alphonse François "Paul" Palat-Dercy, is based on an episode from Lesage's novel Gil Blas. La caverne was the first opera by Le Sueur to be staged and it became one of the most popular works of the French Revolutionary era. The opera was notable for its innovative set design: the stage was divided horizontally, with the lower section representing the cavern of the title (a robbers' den) and the upper section showing a forest. Two levels of action were thus able to be shown simultaneously.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, February 16, 1793
Gil Blas tenor Jean-Baptiste-Sauveur Gavaudan
Rolando bass Châteaufort
Séraphine soprano Julie-Angélique Scio
Don Alphonse tenor Pierre Gaveaux
Léonarde soprano Verteuil
Roustan baritone
Bernard tenor
Charles tenor


Gil Blas is captured by a robber band led by Rolando, who hold him in their den (the cavern of the title) along with the noblewoman Séraphine. Séraphine's husband comes looking for her disguised as a blind beggar but he too is caught by the robbers. Rolando repents and discovers he is Séraphine's brother. In the finale, Gil Blas, who has managed to escape, brings a rescue party, who shoot the robbers and free the prisoners.