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Performance history

The premiere production of Le caïd by the Opéra-Comique was conducted by Théophile Tilmant and directed by Ernest Mocker. [2] The opera received very favourable reviews and was Thomas's first major popular success. [4] The work evinced a vogue for all things Algerian in the colonial power of France, which had conquered Algeria in 1830. [5] It was revived by the Opéra-Comique on 31 August 1851, when it was given its 100th performance with Caroline Miolan-Carvalho as Virginie. [2] It was last revived by the Opéra-Comique on 16 February 1911, receiving a total of 422 representations by that company, [6] and was revived at the Gaîté-Lyrique on 18 May 1931. [7] Its most recent revival was in November 2007 when it was staged at the Opéra-Théâtre in Metz in a production designed and directed by Adriano Sinivia and conducted by Jacques Mercier. [8]

Outside France the opera was first performed in Brussels on 26 August 1849, [7] in London at St. James's Theatre on 8 February 1850, [9] and in New Orleans at the Théâtre d'Orléans on 18 April 1850. [2] It was given in English at the Haymarket Theatre in London on 18 June 1851 (as The Cadi, or Amours among Moors [10] ) and in Manchester on 8 December 1880. It was performed in German in Vienna in 1856, Berlin in 1857, and Prague in 1860, and in Italian in Milan in 1863, Barcelona in 1865, Florence in 1877, and Naples in 1889. [7]

Costume design for the role of Aboul-y-far, 1849

Fathma, Aboul-y-far's daughter

Birotteau, a French hairdresser

Ali-Bajou, the caïd's steward

Kabyles ; the Caïd's guards; French officers, drummers, soldiers; male and female slaves

Aboul-y-far, the caïd of an Algerian town under French control, is regularly beaten up by his subjects in protest against the taxes and fines that he imposes on them. Birotteau, a French hairdresser with a shop in the town, approaches the caïd with the offer of a "secret talisman" which will protect him from the depredations of his subjects. The price is 20,000 boudjous. The caïd, a notorious miser, offers him his daughter Fathma's hand in marriage instead. Birotteau is flattered by the proposal and accepts the offer, forgetting that he is already engaged to Virginie, who owns a millinery shop in the town.

Meanwhile, the caïd's steward and factotum, Ali-Bajou, has a different plan afoot to protect his master. He fosters a passionate romance between Fathma and Michel, the drum-major of the occupying French army. When Michel and Virginie hear of Birotteau's deal with the caïd, they are furious. Faced with Virginie's vow of vengeance and Michel's threat to cut his ears off, Birotteau refuses to marry Fathma in exchange for the "secret talisman" after all. The caïd reluctantly pays Birotteau the 20,000 boudjous, only to discover that the talisman is a recipe for a hair pomade which purportedly cures baldness. In the end, Ali-Bajou becomes happily drunk on French wine. Virginie are Birotteau are married, as are Fathma and Michel. Michel becomes the caïd's bodyguard, and the caïd's only regret is that whole affair has cost him 20,000 boudjous.

The opera was admired by the French composers Hector Berlioz and Georges Bizet. as well as the French poet Théophile Gautier. [8] [12] Some other taste-setters had some reservations. Félix Clément and Pierre Larousse in their 1869 Dictionnaire lyrique described Le caïd as follows:

It cannot be denied that this work is amusing and the music very agreeable. Nevertheless, in our view, the whole has a touch of vulgarity about it, a familiarity and parody which is not part of the opera-buffa. nor of the old opéra-comique. The score teems with charming melodies. In the harmony, under a piquant exterior, lie the purest and most learned forms; the instrumentation is ravishing. So from where does this impression come that we have spoken of above? It is likely due to the disparity of costume and theatrical genre, that people of taste saw with pain ever increasingly popular in France, pieces in which no true sentiment is taken seriously, and the spectator finds no respite from the buffooneries and stunts [cascades ] of the actors. A continual alliance of the most noble of the arts with the weak sides of human character seems to us regrettable. [13]

References

  • Berlioz, Hector ([1903]). Les musiciens et la musique (French). 3rd edition, edited with an introduction by André Hallays. Paris: Calmann-Lévy. View at the Internet Archive .
  • Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). Le caïd . Almanacco Amadeus (Italian). Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  • Clément, Félix; Larrouse, Pierre (1869). Dictionnaire lyrique, ou Histoire des operas. Paris: Auguste Royer; Liepmannsshonn et Dufour. View at Google Books .
  • Degott, Pierre (4 December 2007). "Le Caïd, et la face cachée d'Ambroise Thomas". Res Musica (French). Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  • Hervey, Arthur (1894). Masters of French Music. London: Osgood, McIlvaine & Company. View at the Internet Archive .
  • Loewenberg, Alfred (1978). Annals of Opera 1597–1940 (third edition, revised). Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-87471-851-5 .
  • Mabilat, Claire (2008). Orientalism and Representations of Music in the Nineteenth-Century British Popular Arts. Ashgate. ISBN 0754659623
  • The Musical World (2 February 1850). "Dramatic Intelligence: St. James's". Vol. XXI, No. 5
  • Smith, Richard Langham (2001). "Thomas, (Charles Louis) Ambroise" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . 2nd edition edited by Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-56159-239-5 (hardcover), OCLC  419285866 (eBook), and Grove Music Online .
  • Wild, Nicole; Charlton, David (2005). Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique Paris: répertoire 1762-1972. Sprimont, Belgium: Editions Mardaga. ISBN 978-2-87009-898-1 .
  • Wolff, Stéphane (1953). Un demi-siècle d'Opéra-Comique (1900-1950). Paris: André Bonne. OCLC  44733987. 2174128. 78755097

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Le caïd .

  • The Caid: (Le Caïd) a Comic Opera in Two Acts by M. Sauvage. Represented for the First Time in New York at the French Theatre on November 8th, 1866 . Published by Gray & Green, New York (complete libretto in French with English translation) at Google Books.
  • Le Caïd . Published by Heugel et fils, Paris, 1886 (complete piano/vocal score) at the Internet Archive.
  • Le caïd . Scores at the International Music Score Library Project