Offenbach - Baynes
La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (Robinson/Baynes version) (1867)
Opéra-bouffe in three acts
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy; English version by G P Robinson with musical adaptation by Sydney Baynes (E)
3S,3A,4T,2Bar,B; chorus; 2(II=picc).1.2.1-188.8.131.52-timp.perc:SD/BD/cym/tgl/tamb-strings.
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
Théâtre des Variétés, Paris
|JULIA, grand duchess||Soprano|
|FRITZ, grenadier||Character Tenor|
|BARON PUCK||Tenor or Baritone|
|GENERAL BUMM||Buffo Bass|
|BARON GROG||Tenor or Baritone|
|NEPOMUK, the grand duchess's adjutant||Tenor or Bartione|
|WANDA, a farming girl||Soubrette Soprano|
|Court ladies, servants, soldiers, peasant women|
Time and Place
Gérolstein, 19th century
The grand duchess makes the fusilier Fritz a general because she is in love with him, and she makes him a fusilier again because he wants to stay faithful to his Wanda. This striking example of favouritism made Parisians not only think of the Tuileries and of the Palais d’Hiver but reminded them also of comic scenes from small German states...
In short, the operetta mocks everything that calls for mockery: court gossip in the newspapers, instances of haunting in castles and, not least, the cold countenances of diplomats. The score manages to release the magic in things, with Offenbach’s bright music succeeding wonderfully in exposing both the bombast of the military and the pomposity of the autocrats. And to whom are these absurdities revealed? They are shown to the active minds of modern metropolitans who are made to laugh at them.
Throughout the opera, the enlightened minds of good-natured, sensible people are played off against dull political institutions and methods which appear antiquated and ready for dismantling. The grand duchess is a genuine Paris girl who is not easily tricked and gracefully cheats her dumb adorer, Prince Paul. And Fritz, a boy of the same nature, remains insensitive to courtly glamour and and because of his natural intelligence wins a battle that General Bumm would have lost.
History, Relationships, Politics, Society