Les noces d'Olivette

Les noces d'Olivette is an opéra comique in three acts composed by Edmond Audran, with a libretto by Alfred Duru and Henri Charles Chivot. The farcical romance story concerns Olivette, who loves Valentine (who is also loved by a Countess) but is engaged to a sea captain, who she refuses to marry. Valentine secretly weds Olivette, the captain declares that Olivette is his rightful bride, Valentine is arrested, Olivette is disowned, but eventually her marriage to Valentine is upheld.

The work premiered under the direction of Louis Cantin in Paris on 13 November 1879 at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens.[1][2] Alfred Jolly sang the role of the Duc des Ifs, with Élise Clary as Olivette and Giulia Bennati as the Countess. The piece was then adapted in English and had long runs in London and elsewhere.

English adaptation

It went on to play for 466 performances entitled Olivette at the Strand Theatre in London from 1880 to 1881 in an English-language adaptation by H. B. Farnie and starring Florence St. John.[3][4] Olivette opened at the Bijou Opera House in New York City on 25 December 1880. It was revived the next Christmas and also played at the American Theatre in New York City in March 1899.[5]

Roles and role creators

Role Voice type Premiere Cast,[6] 13 November 1879
Captain De Merimac, of the Corvette "Cormorant" tenor Gerpré
Valentin, officer in the Roussillon Guards, his nephew tenor Marcelin
Duc des Ifs, cousin and heir presumptive to the Countess of Roussillon tenor Alfred Jolly
Marvejol, Seneschal to the Countess of Roussillon and Maire of Perpignan baritone Desmonts
Lonfuseau tenor Pescheux
Lartimon Bartelot
Un aubergiste Lespinasse
Olivette, daughter of the Seneschal soprano Élise Clary
Bathilde, Countess of Roussillon soprano Giulia Bennati
Ourika Rivero
Mistigris Becker
Moustique, De Merimac's cabin boy soprano Gabrielle
Marinette Barnolle
Toinon Mauriane
Lajinjole Lynnès
Fanchette Gerardi
Margotte Castelli
Pavillon Forty
Simone Jeanne
Madelinette Linville
Laviron Noblet
Maids of Honor, midshipmen on board the "Cormorant", sailors, and maids at the "Mainbrace Tavern".


Act I

In the town of Perpignan, Olivette is engaged to a sea captain, De Merimac. Olivette has just returned from the convent where she fell in love with Valentine, nephew of De Merimac. When the captain arrives, Olivette, who is described as an "angel of sweetness and obedience", tells him to leave, as she will not marry him. The captain is not worried, for he is sure he has it in his power to force her to marry him. The countess of Roussillon has promised him anything he wants because the captain had previously rescued her chimpanzee from a watery grave. He writes to her asking her to order the marriage. The captain is unexpectedly called off on a three month voyage and is unable to go through with the nuptials. The countess, who is also in love with Valentine, has come to Perpignan to be near him. She requests the marriage according to the captain's instructions and Valentine, pretending to be the elder De Merimac, quietly weds Olivette himself.

Act II

The countess gives a ball in honor of the wedding. Valentine is having a difficult time impersonating both his uncle and himself by frequent changes of clothing. The captain returns from his voyage and is recognized as the bridegroom. Valentine, coming in suddenly and dressed as the old man, is confronted by the captain and forced to explain. The captain declares that Olivette is his rightful bride.


Olivette plans to get rid of the captain with a conspiracy. The countess thwarts the plan by declaring her intention to marry Valentine. The Countess is imprisoned on De Merimac's ship, "The Cormorant". When Olivette and Valentine, disguised as sailors, are making their getaway, Valentine is seized. Olivette manages to set the countess free and puts on the countess's clothes, passing her own on to the countess's maid Veloutine. The fickle Duke courts Olivette, thinking that she is the Countess. The Duke boasts of his success so loudly that both the captain and Valentine disown Olivette until she is able to prove an alibi. Eventually, things are straightened out, the marriage of Valentine and Olivette is upheld, the countess finally acknowledges the Duke's advances, and the captain is left to console himself.


  1. Amadeus Almanac, accessed 10 July 2008
  2. profile of the opera
  3. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Audran, Edmond" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 899.
  4. Johnson, Colin. "Olivette", The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, 4 February 2017, accessed 11 December 2018
  5. Olivette, Internet Broadway Database, accessed 27 October 2019
  6. Noel E and Stoullig E. Les Annales du Théâtre et de la Musique, 5eme édition, 1879. G Charpentier et Cie, Paris, 1880.
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