Libretto by the composer, after 'La peau de chagrin' by Honoré de Balzac (G)
Major roles: dramS,dramT,charBar;
Minor roles: 3S,3T,Bar,3B; ballet;
reduced orchestration possible
Boosey & Hawkes Bote & Bock
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes
for the world.
Conductor: Reinhard Peters
Company: Ensemble Deutsche Oper am Rhein
|RAPHAEL VON VALENTIN
|PAULINE, a young girl
|To be performed by one person: THE CROUPIER, THE OLD MAN, THE OWNER OF THE CURIOSITY SHOP, THE NOTARY CARDOT and JONATHAN, RAPHAEL'S SERVANT
|Minor characters in the 1st act: EUPHRASIA and AQUILINA, courtesans
|CHARLES and NATHAN, rich men about town
|Raphael's friends: EMIL, FINOT and RASTIGNAC
|THE SERVANT OF THE GAMBLING HALL
|Minor characters in the 2nd act: HORACE BIANCHON, dermatologist
|PROFESSOR PLANCHETTE, mathematician
|MASTER SPIEGHALTER, smith
|Minor characters in the 3rd act: THREE GAMBLERS
|AN OLD LADY
|A YOUNG MAN, duellist
|Passers-by, Servants, Theatre audience, Labourers in the smithery, Visitors at the health resort, Country people, Mail-coach drivers
|Minor characters with the same voice registers can be performed by the same singers in different acts.
|In the 1st and 3rd acts, the ballet is performed with soloists.
Time and Place
Paris and a health resort in the middle of the 19th century
The young student Raphael von Valentin wants to end his life after he has lost his last money at gambling. By a twist of fate, he ends up in a mysterious junk shop, whose owner offers him a strange talisman. It is an oriental donkey's skin, the origin of which goes back to dark mythical times. It fulfils every wish of its owner, but becomes smaller at every wish and correspondingly shortens the owner's life. Valentin accepts the pact, having nothing to lose any more. On leaving the shop, he gets to know that he is the sole heir of an immensely rich uncle, and some time later Pauline, a girl he had formerly secretly admired, confesses her love to him. But had Pauline perhaps already been in love with him before, but not dared to reveal it because of her poor circumstances? Would he have inherited the money even without the skin? Valentin resorts to science in order to solve the mystery, to arrest the process of shrinking and thus fate, too, but in vain. When he realizes that only a little time to live is left to him, he parts from Pauline. After all, it was only his desire for the love of her which now shortens his life. Unable to escape the curse of the pact, Valentin falls into agony. Pauline finds him in his old garret where, after a last moment of resistance, he dies in her arms.
Dramatic, Romantic, Tragic