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Périchole, La (Meilhac & Halévy)



Act One

In Lima, the Viceroy of Peru (Don Andrès) goes out slumming incognito – or so he believes – with his people, who have been paid to flatter him. Two street singers, La Périchole and her lover Piquillo, are trying in vain to earn enough money to get married. When Piquillo leaves, La Périchole falls asleep to stave off her hunger. The Viceroy, captivated by her beauty, offers her a chance to become a lady-in-waiting at his court. La Périchole is very well aware of what she will have to give in exchange for this honour but she has reached such a pitch of starvation that she accepts and writes a farewell letter to Piquillo. This promptly plunges him into despair and he wants to hang himself. Fortunately, he is saved by the First Gentleman-in-Waiting, who is looking for a husband for the Viceroy’s future favourite in order to ensure that appearances are respected. Having eaten their fill and in an advanced state of tipsiness, Piquillo and La Périchole are married, without the young singer realising his wife’s identity.

Act Two

The day after the wedding, having sobered up, Piquillo declares that he loves another woman and wants to find her. But court etiquette dictates that he should first officially introduce his wife to the Viceroy. When he discovers that La Périchole thereby becomes the Viceroy’s official mistress, he bursts into a rage, insults the ruler and is immediately sent to the dungeon for ‘recalcitrant husbands’.

Act Three – First Tableau

La Périchole comes to visit Piquillo in prison. After a further outburst of anger on his part, she informs him that she has not yielded to the Viceroy’s advances. Her escape plan is simple: she will bribe the jailer. The latter now appears, but is none other than the Viceroy in disguise, who has the two felons locked up together. However, he has not counted on the presence of an old prisoner, who helps them to escape through a tunnel he has dug.

Act Three – Second Tableau

Piquillo and La Périchole are now back in the city, but are identified by a patrol; the Viceroy reappears at once. La Périchole and Piquillo sing of their misfortunes, so softening the Viceroy’s heart that he magnanimously allows them to go free and live happily ever after.

    Persons - 2
  • HALÉVY, Ludovic (1834-1908)
  • MEILHAC, Henri (1831-1897)
  • Work - 1
  • Périchole, La (Meilhac & L. Halévy / Offenbach)