Le mariage aux lanternes

Le mariage aux lanternes (The Wedding by Lantern-Light) is an opérette in one act by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was written by Michel Carré and Léon Battu.[1]

It was first performed at the Salle Choiseul, Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris, on 10 October 1857. The operetta was a reworking of Le trésor à Mathurin, with words by Battu (1829–57), which had a well-received single performance at the Salle Herz, Paris on 7 May 1853 but was subsequently lost.[2]

After the Paris premiere Le mariage aux lanternes was produced in Berlin and Vienna in 1858, Prague, Graz and Budapest in 1859, London, New York, Brussels, Stockholm in 1860, Moscow in 1871 and Milan in 1875. Later it was revived at the Opéra-Comique in 1919, Stockholm in 1927 and Berlin in 1930.[3]

The work is in Offenbach's more pastoral and sentimental style rather than the 'bouffonerie' of some of his contemporary stage works.[4]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 10 October 1857,
(Conductor: Jacques Offenbach )
Catherine soprano Marie Dalmont
Denise soprano Maréchal
Fanchette soprano Lise Tautin
Guillot tenor Paul Geoffroy
Le garde-champêtre spoken role Antognini


Place: A village square, with Guillot’s house and a barn with a large tree in front

A young farmer Guillot has affection for his orphan cousin Denise, who was entrusted to him by their uncle Mathurin. He hides his feelings by treating her roughly, driving the young girl to despair. Both write to their uncle: him for money, her for advice. Two gossiping widows, Catherine and Fanchette, poke fun at the doltishness of Guillot, but when he receives a letter from his uncle telling him about treasure that may be found under the great tree when the evening church bells peal the two women determine to win Guillot's hand.

At the time of the angélus, Denise enters, reading a letter from her uncle which tells her that she will find a good husband underneath the great tree, where she falls asleep. As Guillot arrives with his spade and lantern, he hears her speak his name in her sleep, and understands that she is Mathurin's promised treasure. By the light of the lanterns of villagers, who have also come to inspect the treasure, they agree to wed, much to the chagrin of the two widows.



  1. Lamb A. Jacques Offenbach. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London and New York, 1997.
  2. Yon, Jean-Claude. Jacques Offenbach. Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 2000, p115.
  3. Loewenberg A. Annals of Opera. London, John Calder, 1978.
  4. Yon, Jean-Claude. Jacques Offenbach. Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 2000, p196.
  • Amadeus Almanac, accessed 26 September 2008
  • Lamb, Andrew, "Le mariage aux lanternes", in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
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