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P’tites Michu, Les (Duval & Vanloo)





In 1793, just as the Revolutionary authorities are about to arrest the Marquis des Ifs, his wife dies giving birth to a little girl. The Marquis entrusts the child to the Michus, who have also just had a daughter, before disappearing to elude his pursuers. Shortly after this, M. Michu baths the girls. He puts them in the bathtub together, then, when he has to dress them again, is incapable of telling one from the other.

act one

The garden of the Herpin Institute in 1810

With the money given them by the Marquis, the Michus have moved to Les Halles, where their business has prospered. Their two daughters – for Blanche-Marie and Marie-Blanche pass for twin sisters, and think they are such – are continuing their education at a boarding school run on military lines by Mademoiselle Herpin. Aristide, the Michus’ clerk, is in love with one of them, but without knowing precisely which one! The Marquis returns to Paris, now a General of the Empire. He has sent his orderly Bagnolet in search of his daughter Irène in order to give her in marriage to Captain Gaston Rigaud, the officer who saved his life at the siege of Saragossa. By an extraordinary coincidence, Gaston is Mademoiselle Herpin’s nephew. One day, coming to visit his aunt, he meets the Michu girls, whose hearts at once begin to throb for the handsome soldier. Bagnolet finally locates the Michus. Now comes the moment of truth. Deeply embarrassed, the honest cheesemonger goes off to meet the General, accompanied by his wife and the two girls, who initially have no idea of the reason for this hastily arranged visit.

act two

The house of General des Ifs

The General’s guests are waiting to be introduced to Irène des Ifs, whose imminent arrival is announced. Once he is alone with the Michus, the General refuses to listen to their explanations: Gaston cannot marry two women. He demands to be told who his daughter is. Despite her love for Gaston, Blanche-Marie decides to sacrifice herself for her sister, whom she believes to be smitten with the officer. So it is Marie-Blanche who will be Irène des Ifs!

act three

The Michus’ shop

Blanche-Marie has resigned herself with a heavy heart to marrying Aristide, but she does not find her fiancé any more attractive than she does a future selling cheese. Meanwhile, Marie-Blanche has been upsetting her new father and her fiancé with her unrefined language and manners. They cannot understand why she is constantly going to Les Halles, where she does not hesitate to serve the customers. Marie-Blanche realises the mistake she has made. She understands that her sister loves Gaston. For her part, she prefers the shop and Aristide to the high society existence she is promised. On the day of the double wedding, she has the portrait of the Marquise des Ifs brought to her. She comes up with the scheme of dressing her sister in the Marquise’s clothes, powdering her and giving her the same hairstyle: the resemblance is astonishing. The Marquis thinks he is looking at a reincarnation of his wife. So it is Blanche-Marie who is his daughter! Marie-Blanche will marry Aristide and Blanche-Marie will be happy with Gaston.

    Persons - 2
  • DUVAL, Georges (1847-1919)
  • VANLOO, Albert (1846-1920)
  • Work - 1
  • P'tites Michu, Les (Vanloo & Duval / Messager)