La fille du tambour-major

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La fille du tambour-major (The Drum-Major's Daughter) is an opéra comique, or operetta, in three acts by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Alfred Duru and Henri Charles Chivot (who often wrote libretti for Charles Lecocq).

The title is an allusion to Gaetano Donizetti's La fille du régiment.

Performance history[edit]

It was first staged at the Théâtre des Folies-Dramatiques in Paris on 13 December 1879. This late Offenbach piece followed Madame Favart (1878) and would soon be followed by Offenbach's masterpiece, Tales of Hoffman. This was the last of his operas that Offenbach lived to see produced. The piece was very successful, running for over 240 performances in its initial production and enjoying many foreign productions into the 1880s, although it did not retain the popularity outside France of some Offenbach pieces.[1]

Offenbach's score is more adventurous and grander in scope than his previous works and adopts an unusually complex style for some of the melody lines. A few of the vocal numbers are also more challenging for the singers than earlier Offenbach works.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, December 13, 1879
(Conductor: - )
Stella, putative daughter of the Della Voltas soprano Juliette Simon-Girard
Duc Della Volta tenor Édouard Maugé
Duchesse Della Volta mezzo-soprano Caroline Girard
Robert, a lieutenant baritone Lepers
Monthabor, a drum-major bass François-Louis Luco
Griolet, a drummer tenor Simon-Max
Claudine, regimental vivandière soprano Noémie Vernon
Mother Superior soprano Hélène Réval
Marquis Bambini tenor Bartel
Clampas baritone Henriot
Francesca soprano Listrelle
Soldiers, Nuns, Convent inmates, Gentlemen and Ladies, People


The patriotic plot, set during the Austrian occupation of Italy as Napoleon invades Lombardy in 1806, is similar in its military flavour to that of Donizetti's La fille du régiment.

Act 1[edit]

The convent of Biella in Northern Italy

A company of French soldiers, led by Lieutenant Robert, crosses the Alps to join the army of the first consul who commands the Italian troops. The French invade the convent - the nuns have fled, and the only remaining occupant is a young student at the convent school who was in penitence, Stella, daughter of the Duke della Volta.

Act 2[edit]

A room of the palace of the Duke della Volta in Novare

Stella falls in love with Robert, but her father has promised her hand to a feeble-minded old marquis, Bambini. However, Lieutenant Robert receives the news that Stella is the daughter, not of the duke, but of a French drum-major.

Act 3[edit]

The hotel 'The Gold Lion' in Milan; a square in Milan

The war is not over, but Stella searches for Lieutenant Robert. The Austrians seize Stella. However Napoleon's victory changes everything. The French troops arrive, and Milan greets the liberators and Stella can marry Lieutenant Robert.


See also[edit]




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