M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le . . .

M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le... (Mr. Cauliflower will be at home on... ) is an opéra bouffe, or operetta, in one act by Jacques Offenbach and the Duc de Morny (under the pseudonym "M. de St Rémy"). The French libretto is also credited to Morny, though Ludovic Halévy, Hector-Jonathan Crémieux, and Morny's secretary Ernest Lépine probably contributed to the text as well.

The plot provided many opportunities for Offenbach to indulge in his lighthearted musical parodies of well-known opera melodies and formulas, especially a grand trio in which Italian belcanto is imitated and a comic solo for the manservant. Also, the young lovers secretly communicate using musical quotes.[1]

Performance history

M. Choufleuri was first performed privately at the Présidence du Corps Légistlatif, Palais Bourbon, Paris on 31 May 1861 in the presence of Napoleon III. The first public performance was given at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris on 14 September 1861.

The Duc de Mornay was the monarch's illegitimate brother and a senior government official, which may explain some of the laudatory reviews of his work. In Le Figaro, however, Henri Rochefort wrote:[2]

How fortunate is this author whose participation in a frightful coup d'etat has saved him from the necessity of living by the pen! If one of us dared bring such an inept production to a theatrical director, he would forthwith have been seized and thrown into the den of the theater's old hag ushers, whose instructions would have been to beat him to death with footstools.

The one-hour work is still performed, especially by amateur companies, since it is not particularly challenging vocally. M. Choufleuri restera chez lui was performed as part of a triple bill entitled ‘Vive Offenbach’ with Pomme d'api and Mesdames de la Halle at the Paris Opéra-Comique in December 1979, revived the following year and in 1983, with a recording in 1982.[3] There was a production at La Monnaie, Brussels under Patrick Davin in February 2007.[4]

Roles

Role Voice type Premiere Cast, May 31, 1861
(Conductor: Jacques Offenbach)
Choufleuri baritone Désiré
Ernestine, his daughter soprano Lise Tautin
Chrysodule Babylas, Ernestine's admirer tenor Pierre-Armand Potel
Petermann, Choufleuri's Flemish manservant tenor Georges Dejon-Marchand
Balandard, a henpecked husband tenor Debruille-Bache
Madame Balandard, a dominating wife tenor Léonce
Small chorus of guests

Synopsis

Place: Paris
Time: January 24, 1833

The newly-rich but culturally ignorant M. Choufleuri invites the upper crust of Paris to a private party and "musical soiree" (at his bourgeois drawing-room, furnished in vulgar taste) by celebrated real life Italian opera singers: soprano Henriette Sontag, tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini, and baritone Antonio Tamburini. All three become indisposed at the last minute.

In the meantime, Choufleuri's daughter, Ernestine, has been secretly seeing a young basoonist, composer and singer, Chrysodule Babylas. When she asked her father to invite the young man to the soiree, Choufleuri had refused, saying that a poor musician is not a worthy suitor for her. Now, Ernestine saves the day by impersonating Sontag and insisting that Babylas impersonate Rubini, and that Choufleuri himself masquerade as Tamburini (after all, the young couple explain, baritones don't need to speak much, they just oom-pah-pah – but Choufleuri should try to stay on key).

Despite Choufleuri's lazy and incompetent Flemish servant, Petermann, the deception works – the guests are impressed by the great "Italian" singers (who all speak in Italian accents and sing in pig-Italian), and Choufleuri rewards Babylas with his daughter's hand in marriage (especially since Babylas has demanded this, plus 50,000 Francs dowry, in order to keep quiet about the fraud).[5]

Recordings

References

Notes
  1. Profile of the opera Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine from www.partitura.nl
  2. Williams, 61-3
  3. Crichton R. The Operettas of Offenbach. In: Opera on Record 3. Blyth, A (ed). Hutchinson, London, 1984.
  4. Patrick Davin productions from www.demunt.be - (in French)
  5. Libretto from Boosey & Hawkes
Sources
  • Casaglia, Gherardo (2005)."Monsieur Choufleuri restera chez lui, 31 May 1861". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  • Lamb, Andrew, "M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le . . ." in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
  • Williams, Roger L. Gaslight and Shadow: The World of Napoleon III (NY: Macmillan, 1957)
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