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Opérette (1879)


Musique: Karl Millöcker
Paroles: Rowland Leigh
Livret: Camillo Walzel • Richard Genée

The young milliner, Jeanne, quarrels with the hat-shop owner, Madame Labille, and, unemployed, has to rely on her poet-lover, René Lavallery, for financial support. However, the Comte Dubarry entices her away from the poet’s garret to the Maison Dubarry. Even higher “honours” are on offer, for the Maréchale de France, makes it clear the King is very interested in Jeanne, the “Madame Dubarry”, and is willing to pay the Comte’s debts for a consideration. The Comte is only too ready to make a deal - it seems there are many pimps and procurers at the court of Louis Quinze - and the upshot of it all is, of course, that Madame Dubarry becomes the uncrowned Queen of France.

During the years of his musical maturity in the 1880s, Carl Millöcker (1842 - 1899) was regarded as an operetta composer in the same class as Johann Strauss II and Franz von Suppé. Indeed, it was Suppé who recommended his colleague as a conductor to the Thalia-Theater in Graz in 1864. Millöcker, who had been trained as a flutist at the Vienna Conservatory from 1855 to 1858, moved about considerably as he established himself, first as a conductor, and later as a composer of operetta. While at first, Millöcker wrote one-act works similar to those of Offenbach, he subsequently turned to composing full-length operettas. Of all his successful stage works, Der Bettelstudent (1882) has maintained the firmest hold on the public's affections.

Gräfin Dubarry (1879), set to a libretto by Zell and Genée, was not a major success. It nevertheless contained some quite beguiling music, notably the arias composed for the heroine, based on an actual historical French countess who was a favored mistress of King Louis XV. From her exceedingly modest start as a millinery worker, Jeanne (as she is known) rises to celebrity as a Parisian dancer and singer. In "Ich schenk mein Herz" (I Offer my Heart) she recounts the joys and disappointments of love and expresses her resolve to give her heart to one special man only, be he slave or king. Another aria beloved of operetta sopranos is "Was ich im Leben beginne...Ja so ist sie, die Dubarry" (When I begin a thing in life...Yes, that's what she is like, this Dubarry). Often referred to as "Jeanne's Song" (especially when sung in English translation), this aria offers a buoyant opening and close brightly enfolding a glowing 3/4 time center section, first reflective, then ecstatic as the countess Dubarry describes the fire of her kiss for the right man.

While the work in toto has been poorly represented on disc, several prominent sopranos have essayed these two memorable sections from the score -- most notably Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, who set an intoxicating, unsurpassable standard in a 1957 recording of operetta arias.

However modest the acclaim extended to the original work, Dubarry achieved considerable popularity when, in 1931, the best portions of the score were appropriated for a pastiche by Theo Mackeben, presented under the title Die Dubarry. In this form, set to an entirely new libretto, Millöcker's music achieved the same widespread performance and acceptance as that enjoyed by his most successful works of the 1880s and 1890s (such as Der Bettelstudent. The revision was frequently produced and very well received throughout Europe, England, and North America.





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Version 1

Gräfin Dubarry (1879-10-Theater an der Wien-Wien)

Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Theater an der Wien (Vienne - Autriche)
Durée :
Nombre : 397 représentations
Première Preview : jeudi 01 janvier 1970
Première : jeudi 01 janvier 1970
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : ???? ????
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Avec :
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