Dédé is an opérette or musical comedy in three acts with music by Henri Christiné and a French libretto by Albert Willemetz. It marked an important milestone in developing the career of Maurice Chevalier.
Dédé opened at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris on 10 November 1921, almost exactly three years after Christiné’s hit Phi-Phi, and although Dédé did not manage that long a run, this was mainly due to a change of theatre. Revivals took place at the Théâtre Marigny in 1942, again in Paris in 1973 and in Lyon in 1993. In recent years it has been produced in Brussels, Cannes, Marseille, Metz, Reims (broadcast on France 3), and on tour by Opéra Éclaté.
A film adaptation of the piece was released in 1935, starring Albert Préjean and Danielle Darrieux. A complete sound recording was made in 1953, with Chevalier in his original role, and another from Decca/RCA in 1973, complete with dialogue.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast,|
12 November 1918
|André de la Huchette ('Dédé')||baritone||André Urban|
|Robert Dauvergne||baritone||Maurice Chevalier|
|Maître Leroydet, a notary||-||Louis Baron, fils|
|Le Commissaire||-||Géo Bury|
|Une amie||-||Marthe Duguet|
Setting: A Parisian shoe shop Le pied meurtri (The Bruised Foot) in 1921
André de la Huchette (known as Dédé), is attempting to woo Odette, a beautiful woman he met at a dance. Monsieur Chausson, Odette's husband, has problems with his business, and Dédé has bought it as an ideal place to carry on a liaison with Odette, not aware that Monsieur Chausson is her husband. The sales girls are all dancers at the Casino de Paris in the evenings. Dédé tries to get Odette to tell him all about herself and she pretends to be the wife of the Préfet de Police. Denise overhears all this. Maître Leroydet comes to the shop every day pretending to be looking for comfortable shoes, but in fact courting Denise, the shop’s head seamstress, who herself is in love with Dédé. Robert d’Auvergne, Dédé’s friend, has lost his fortune gambling in Monte Carlo; when Dédé calls to see Odette he finds Robert and to help him out makes him manager of the shop.
Unaware that the Préfet is not married, Denise in her jealousy sends an anonymous letter to him, where she reveals his supposed wife's adultery. Meanwhile, the shoe workers union calls a strike, and a delegation come to demand that Dédé close his shop, but the strikers are distracted by the sales girls. Odette finds herself alone with Dédé but sees her husband looking through the shop window and hides. With a crowd in the shop, the police inspector comes looking for the strikers. Dédé and his friends think that the Préfet himself has come looking for his wife. So to divert attention, Denise appears scantily dressed as Dédé’s mistress. While Dédé and Robert hold the fort, Odette escapes from the shop; the police officer states who he is why he is there. Dédé now wonders who Odette really is.
Dédé realises that he will be happy with Denise and asks for her hand. As the shop is now no use to him, he presents it to Chausson. Robert turns his attentions to Odette. He convinces her, and when Odette learns of Dédé's generosity, she gets Chausson to keep Robert as manager.
- Gänzl Kurt. Henri Christiné. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London and New York, 1997.
- ’L'encyclopédie multimedia de la comédie musicale théâtrale en France (1918-1940)’ (http://comedie-musicale.jgana.fr/index.htm), accessed 17.08.09.
- Traubner R. Operetta, a theatrical history. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1983.