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Photo: Franck Galbrun
Rennes, 2000

Offenbach - Keck

Fantasio (OEK critical edition) (1872)

Duration: 130 minutes
Opéra-comique in three acts

Libretto by Paul de Musset and Charles Nuitter, based on the comedy by Alfred de Musset; new German version by Carsten Golbeck; new English version by Richard Duployen (F,G,E)

Scoring
colS,M(S),4T,Bar,BBar,2B; chorus; 2(II=picc).2.2.2-4.2.3.0-timp.perc-strings .
Abbreviations (PDF).


Territory
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.



World premiere incomplete
10/15/2000
Théâtre, Rennes
Vincent Vittoz, director
Conductor: Claude Schnitzler
Company: Choeur de L'Opéra de Rennes / Orchestre de Bretagene



World Premiere
1/18/1872
Paris
Company: Opéra-Comique



World premiere of version
12/15/2013
Royal Festival Hall, London
Conductor: Sir Mark Elder
Company: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Roles

THE KING OF BAVARIALyric Bass
THE PRINCESSColoratura Soprano
FANTASIO, a studentLyric Tenor / Mezzo-Soprano / Soprano
THE PRINCE OF MANTUALyric Baritone
MARIONI, his adjutantBuffo Tenor
FLAMEL, the princess's nurseMezzo-Soprano
Students: SPARCKBass Baritone
FACIOTenor
MAXTenor
HARTMANNBass
Ladies and gentlemen of the court, citizens, students


Time and Place
A fairy-tale Munich as in Romantic operas


Synopsis
The action takes place between Munich's royal residence and the university with its liberal-minded students. The young and beautiful princess, courted by many a student, is supposed to marry a prince she does not know. The happy townspeople celebrate the eve of the union with singing and a torchlight procession, but the students do not share in the carefree jubilation. Fantasio, in particular, feels pity for the princess who is supposed to give her first love to an absolute stranger. He is happy to seize the occasion to dress as a jester in order to be near her and to help her, his happiness partly deriving from the fact that he is in immediate danger of getting caught and arrested by the police because of his debts. Due to an accident, the old jester has just died and is borne to his grave with ironic pathos. Fantasio climbs the park wall in a jester's costume and disappears into darkness, towards adventure and the princess… Ludwig Berger


Repertoire Note
For Offenbach, romantic opera was the big dream in his life: away from lyrical drama, the Singspiel, which seemed much too light for him, away from operetta, which he mastered as a champion of light entertainment, to the purer realm of absolute music. In the music of Fantasio, considered one of his most beautiful and refined works by those who know Offenbach, there is a shade of that longing. Fantasio, which remains close to a drama by Alfred de Musset, marks Offenbach’s crucial step on his way towards Tales of Hoffmann.
Ludwig Berger


Press Quotes
"The revival, using Jean-Christophe Keck’s critical edition, reveals a work that deals in refined shifts in mood from a composer primarily associated, now as then, with in-your-face directness… Offenbach's unease at being pigeonholed as a popular entertainer informs the score, which is characterised by a refined melancholy…" (Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 16 Dec 2013)


Moods
Comic, Poetic, Romantic


Subjects
Relationships, Politics, Society


Recommended Recording
Sarah Connolly / Russell Braun / Robert Murray / Brenda Rae / Victoria Simmonds / Neal Davies / Brindley Sherratt / Aled Hall / Gavan Ring / Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Opera Rara Chorus / Sir Mark Elder
Opera Rara ORC51


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