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30th Aniversary Season - 2008
L'Étoile (The Star)
Opéra-Bouffe in 3 acts by Eugène Leterrier and Albert Vanloo. Music by Emmanuel Chabrier.
Premiere: Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris, 28 November 1877
For the public execution that traditionally is the high point of his birthday celebration, the disguised King Ouf tries, but fails, to elicit anti-government remarks from his citizens. To satisfy a constitutional requirement that he marry, Ouf has selected as his bride the neighboring Princess Laoula, who arrives accompanied by Ambassador Hérisson, his wife, and his secretary Tapioca. Enroute, Laoula has caught the eye of the young peddler, Lazuli, who sinks into despair when Hérisson, to provide diplomatic confusion, refers to Laoula as his wife. Lazuli vents his dissatisfaction with the government to a passing stranger, the incognito King, who now has found his victim. As Lazuli is about to be tortured, Ouf's astrologer, Siroco, rushes in to inform the King that one day after Lazuli dies, so too will the King, and—according to the clever King's will—15 minutes later, Siroco himself must die. Ouf cancels the execution and leads Lazuli in full splendor to his palace. After two more acts of zany mixups, Laoula and Lazuli are happily united. Ouf names the youthful Lazuli his heir, happy in the knowledge that the boy is destined to predecease him by 24 hours.
With a plotline in the best tradition of Gilbert and Sullivan, musical wit that owes a debt to Offenbach, and parodies throughout of the bel canto stylings of Donizetti and Bellini, L'Étoile has an irresistible charm, tenderness, and satiric bite. Best known for his brilliant orchestral rhapsody España, Chabrier has created in this work a masterpiece of French musical theatre, last performed by The Ohio Light Opera during its 1991 season.