Digital resources for French Romantic music

On demande une femme de chambre (Véron / Planquette)




Operetta in one act premiered in Saint Petersburg in May 1876.


Claudine, who has just arrived in Paris and is seeking a position as a maid, is sent to the home of Madame de Saint-Gommès, where she is to be hired. However, there is no one at the Baroness’s house. Although timid at first, the young applicant becomes increasingly adventurous, exploring the boudoir for clues that might tell her something about her future employer. This one-woman piece, written for Anna Judic, was the musical adaptation of a conversational scene for two characters by its librettist Pierre Véron, published in the Journal amusant in December 1875. Probably tried out in private salons during the early months of 1876, the work went with Judic on her tour of Russia and appears to have received its public premiere in Saint Petersburg. On demande une femme de chambre is less a humorous sketch than a bittersweet critique of Parisian society after the Commune de Paris. The Couplets des Deux Lettres contrast the seductive tone of the aristocracy with that of country folk. Si on voulait goes on to criticise the use of artifice in the beauty regimes of fashionable women, who must enchant men who “cannot tolerate anything that looks natural”. Although Claudine becomes a little intoxicated during the Couplets de la Cigarette, she is soon brought back down to earth by the realisation that the Baroness is being hounded by bailiffs and that one of her female friends, who is ill and therefore stripped of her powers of seduction, lacks any means of support (Mélodrame). Lavish society life is merely an illusion and the young countrywoman needs to return home if she is to remain unscathed.

    Persons - 2
  • PLANQUETTE, Robert (1848-1903)
  • VÉRON, Pierre (1833-1900)