Vie Parisienne, La

Composer: Offenbach, Jacques 1819 - 1880

Version: English version by Geoffrey Dunn

La vie parisienne (1866) was Offenbach’s first full-length work to portray contemporary Parisian life, unlike his earlier period pieces and mythological subjects. It became one of his most popular operettas. SYNOPSIS: Paris, 1860s. Two young men, Bobinet and Raoul de Gardefeu, are rivals for the favors of the beautiful Metella. They await her arrival at the Gare Saint-Lazare, but when the train arrives she spurns them in favour of a richer and older man. The two rejected men become allies, and decide that it’s high time to give up ‘fast women’ and their costly ways. Gardefeu bribes his former valet, Joseph, and takes his place as a tourist courier, conveying the wealthy Swedish Baron and Baroness Gondremarck to his own house, pretending it is the Grand Hotel. The Baron is secretly keen to meet Metella, who has been described to him by one of his Swedish friends, and Gardefeu is enchanted by the Baroness. To maintain the masquerade, Gardefeu invites some friends to a lavish dinner, which goes off with a swing. The following night, Bobinet holds a party in the house of his absent aunt, with all the servants masquerading as nobility. The aunt’s chambermaid, Pauline, is instructed to seduce the Baron and keep him away from his wife as long as possible. The party ends in a riotous champagne supper and dance. The next night, a rich Brazilian is host at Alfred’s restaurant. Baron Gondremarck arrives for a rendezvous with Metella, but she tells him she is returning to Gardefeu and offers as a substitute a heavily veiled lady - the Baroness, of course. The Baron has discovered Gardefeu’s deception and challenges him to a duel, but is pacified by recalling the fun the young men had arranged for him. Everybody is reconciled, everybody is happy.

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