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Ciboulette (Flers & Croisset / Hahn)




Operetta in three acts and four tableaux premiered at the Théâtre des Variétés (Paris) on 7 April 1923.


“Would you agree to compose a traditional operetta, in a Halles setting, like Fille Angot?” In 1921, when Reynaldo Hahn received this telegram from Robert de Flers, he was already the author of numerous successful works, but had not yet tackled operetta. This typically French genre – threatened by its Viennese counterpart and the arrival of the American musical – was then beginning a new life. The authors readily agreed to situate Ciboulette’s action in a fin-de-siècle Paris, whose décor ranges from the Halles district to high-society salons, with a Sunday excursion to Aubervilliers. The argument recalls both Véronique (Messager) and Scènes de la vie de Bohème (Murger), to the point that Duparquet appears as an aging Rodolphe. Musically, Hahn strives to go back to the nineteenth-century operetta, with its humour and fine sentiment, which he treats with his own particularly eclectic taste. References to the great repertoire are numerous (a quotation from the Saint-Sulpice duo in Massenet’s Manon when Roger and Zénobie are reunited, or an anachronistic evocation by Ciboulette in Act II of Rodolphe and Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème), as well as popular quotations, such as Il court, il court le furet or Olivier Métra’s famous waltz Les Roses. The premiere at the Théâtre des Variétés with Edmée Favart (Ciboulette) and Jean Périer (Duparquet) was a triumph, to the point that the critics immediately proclaimed the “rebirth of French operetta”. Even today, Ciboulette still stands out for the quality of its prosody, stemming from the music hall, the rare use of melodrama in an operetta, and the beauty of its novel harmonies.

    Persons - 2
  • FLERS, Robert de (1872-1927)
  • HAHN, Reynaldo (1874-1947)