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Faust et Marguerite (Baumaine & Blondelet / Barbier)

Date

1869.7.23

Description

Saynète bouffe premiered at the Concert des Ambassadeurs on 23 July 1869.

Text

Although the premiere of Gounod’s Faust at the Théâtre-Lyrique did not really give rise to any parodies on less prominent stages, things were completely different ten years later, when the work was revived (and adapted) for the Paris Opéra. Hervé’s Le Petit Faust, on 23 April 1869, was the first of many caricatures of Faust which filled the theatres and café-concerts, even popping up in Christmas shows. The saynète bouffe by Frédéric Barbier, based on a libretto by Félix Baumaine and Charles Blondelet, was however less of a parody of the actual work than the artists who were to perform Gounod’s opera all over France. It presents a married couple, Monsieur and Madame Lehuchoir, “singers from the provinces”, who are preparing to perform Faust and Marguerite in Fouilly-les-mouches. The comedy of the situation lies in the disparity between the desires of the audience – who want to experience grand opera without having to travel to Paris – and the minimal resources at the performers’ disposal. The Air des Bijoux reveals that the jewels are fake, the Couplets de la Bretelle show how threadbare the costumes are and Les Couplets du Maquillage poke fun at the excessive use of makeup as a masking technique… There are a great many onomatopoeic devices and the dialogues become increasingly ridiculous. The work has great fun with these, adding a touch of self-reflective humour in this theatre within a theatre: “Madame, it is not for you to judge the words and the music of what you have been told to sing! The more stupid it appears, now, the wittier it will be.” The Duo d’Amour and the Air de l’extase are yet to come, but when the couple finally seem ready to go on stage, a surprise awaits.

    Works - 2
  • Faust (Barbier & Carré / Gounod)
  • Petit Faust, Le (Crémieux & Jaime / Hervé)
  • Persons - 3
  • BARBIER, Frédéric (1829-1889)
  • BAUMAINE, Félix (-1881)
  • BLONDELET, Charles (1825-1888)
  • Theme - 1
  • Genre – Chanson et opérette sous le Second Empire