Le cheval de bronze
Le cheval de bronze (The Bronze Horse) is an opéra comique by the French composer Daniel Auber, first performed on 23 March 1835 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle de la Bourse in Paris. The libretto (in three acts) is by Auber's regular collaborator, Eugène Scribe and the piece was a great success in its day. In 1837, it was transformed into an opera-ballet, but this did not hold the stage. The overture is one of Auber's most popular. The first-act finale expands on the final phrases from the first-act finale of Mozart's Così fan tutte. The composer tried to reflect the Chinese setting of the story in the music.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 23 March 1835
(Conductor: Henri Valentino)
|Prince Yang, imperial prince of China||tenor||Louis-Antoine-Eléonore Ponchard|
|Stella, Mughal princess||soprano||Alphonsine-Virginie-Marie Dubois ("Mme Casimir")|
|Tsing-Sing, a mandarin||tenor||Louis Féréol|
|Tchin-Kao, a wealthy farmer||baritone||Giovanni Inchindi|
|Péki, daughter of the farmer Tchin-Kao||soprano||Félicité Pradher|
|Yan-Ko, a young farmhand||tenor||Étienne-Bernard-Auguste Thénard|
|Lo-Mangli, Stella's maid-of-honor||soprano||Fargueil|
|Chorus: Stella's ladies; soldiers and lords of the prince; peasants|
- Place: China
Péki is due to be married against her will to the mandarin Tsing-Sing, who already has four wives. Péki meets Prince Yang and tells him she is really in love with the poor young farmhand Yan-Ko, but six months earlier he mysteriously disappeared into the sky riding a bronze horse. Yan-Ko returns on the horse but refuses to say where he has been. The prince interrupts Péki's wedding by ordering Tsing-Sing to fly away with him on the horse. Undeterred by the ruined wedding, Péki's father finds another rich old man for her to marry. She decides to elope with Yan-Ko. Tsing-Sing returns on the bronze horse without the prince and refuses to reveal anything about his adventure because if he does he will be transformed into a statue. Unfortunately, he mumbles some details during his sleep and is turned into stone, as is Péki's beloved, Yan-Ko. She decides to ride away on the horse to try to save him. The horse takes Péki (who is disguised as a man) to the palace of Princess Stella on the planet Venus. Péki needs Stella's magic bracelet to rescue her beloved from the spell. She easily passes the task Stella sets her to resist seduction by a group of beautiful women. Péki returns to earth to find the statues of Yan-Ko, Tsing-Sing and Prince Yang (who was unable to resist kissing Stella). She uses the bracelet to free Yan-Ko and the prince but she will not fully release Tsing-Sing until he promises to give up his marriage claims on her. This leaves her free to marry Yan-ko and Prince Yang marries Princess Stella.
In 1857 Lucien Petipa staged a ballet to the music of the second version of the opera Le cheval de bronze (on September 21, 1857, Académie royale de musique, Paris); in the main role is Amalia Ferraris; in a month, she has been replaced by a Russian dancer Zinaida Richard (she became the wife of Louis Mérante).
- Le cheval de bronze Grosses Wiener Rundfunkorchester, conducted by Kurt Richter (recorded 1953; reissued on CD by Walhall, 2008)
- Le cheval de bronze Chorus and New Philharmonic Radio Orchestra, conducted by Jean-Pierre Marty (recorded 1979; reissued on CD by Gala, 2002)
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Le cheval de bronze, 23 March 1835". Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).
- Chouquet, Gustave (1889). "Valentino, Henri Justin Armand Joseph", vol. 4, p. 214, in A Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 4 volumes. London: Macmillan.
- Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0140293124
- Palmer, Andrew. Booklet notes to the Gala recording
- Pierre, Constant, editor (1900). Le Conservatoire national de musique et de déclamation. Documents historiques et administratifs. Paris: Imprimerie National. 1031 pages. View at Google Books.
- Pougin, Arthur (1880). "Valentino (Henri-Justin-Joseph)", pp. 597–598, in Biographie universelle des musiciens et Bibliographie générale de la musique par F.-J. Fétis. Supplément et complément, vol. 2. Paris: Firmin-Didot. View at Google Books.
- Warrack, John; West, Ewan (1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869164-5.
- Le cheval de bronze: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- French libretto (Paris, 1835?) at Google Books
- French libretto (Brussels, 1837) at Google Books
- French libretto in Théâtre de Eugène Scribe, vol. 6 (Paris, 1856) at Google Books