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Music Text

Libretto by Paul de Musset and Charles Nuitter, based on the comedy by Alfred de Musset; new German version by Otto Maag and Ludwig Berger (G)

Scoring

colS,M,4T,Bar,BBar,2B; chorus;
2.2.2.2-4.2.3.0-timp.perc-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World premiere of version
2/8/1957
Hamburg
Company: unknown

Roles

THE KING OF BAVARIA Lyric Bass
THE PRINCESS Coloratura Soprano
FANTASIO, a student Lyric Tenor
THE PRINCE OF MANTUA Lyric Baritone
MARINONI, his adjutant Buffo Tenor
FLAMEL, the princess's nurse Mezzo Soprano
Students: SPARCK Bass Baritone
FACIO Tenor
MAX Tenor
HARTMANN Bass
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

Moods

Comic, Poetic, Romantic

Subjects

Politics, Relationships, Society




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