Cover to cast recordingCiboulette

Operetta in 3 acts and 4 scenes. Libretto by Robert de Flers and Francis de Croisset; music by Reynaldo Hahn.

Presented at Théâtre Marigny, Paris - 2 October, 1926


The scene is set in Paris in 1867.

Act I - Scene 1. A room in the -Smoking Dogs tavern in the general market at Les Halles.

Antonin enters with Zénobie, who soon leaves him to join Roger, a handsome captain. Duparquet (formerly Rodolphe in La Vie de Boheme) is in a mood for confidences. Zénobie returns : she wants to get rid of Antonin, who accepts on the condition the Captain pay all Zénobie's bills...

Scene 2 : The heart of Les Halles market at dawn.

Market-gardeners are unloading their vegetables. Enter Ciboulette. Old Mother Pingret tells her that she will marry a man found in a cabbage, after causing him to leave a woman capable of going white instantly, and after receiving a formal proposal in a tambourine! Ciboulette comforts Antonin for losing Zénobie. He lies down in Ciboulette's cart, falls asleep, and the vegetables are loaded back on top of him!

Act lI - Inside a farmhouse at Aubervilliers.

Eight fiancés are waiting for Ciboulette on the square outside the church. She arrives with Duparquet : we have had a good trip... Antonin suddenly appears from under the cabbages on the cart, amazed to be in the country. The fiancés take his presence rather badly. The arrival of Zénobie and her friends is announced : Ciboulette takes Antonin to the cellar, and has an argument with Zénobie, who instantly turns white: the second condition has been fulfilled! Antonin returns, and reproaches Ciboulette for her attitude; this saddens her all the more as he is leaving... Duparquet confesses that he was once a famous lover, Rodolphe. He offers to introduce Ciboulette to Olivier Metra, the great composer of waltzes. Thinking that if she becomes a great artist, Antonin will be at her feet. Ciboulette agrees and becomes Conchita Ciboulero.

Act III - An evening at Olivier Metra's studio.

Duparquet has brought along Antonin who has broken with Zénobie. Antonin talks of killing himself, once he has written a letter to Ciboulette_ The latter arrives disguised in her new costume. Antonin courts her without recognizing her. When she sings, he falls into her arms at the very moment his letter is brought to her in a tambourine!


Cast recording starring Mady Mesplé, José van Dam and Nicolai Gedda with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra - EMI Classics - 7243 5 66159 2 2

an opérette in three acts by Robert dc Flers and Francis de Croisset. Music by Reynaldo Hahn. Produced at the Théâtre des Variétés, Paris, 7 April 1923 with Edmée Favart (Ciboulette), Jean Périer (Duparquet), Henry Defreyn (Antonin) and Jeanne Perriat (Zénobie). Produced at the Théâtre Marigny 2 October 1926 with Mlle Favart, André Bauge, Defreyn and Danielle Bregis. Produced at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Lyrique 1931 with Nini Roussel and 20 January 1935 with Renée Camia, Aquistapace, André Noël and May Muriel. Produced at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra Comique 13 March 1953 with Géori Boué, Roger Bourdin, Raymond Amade and Lili Grandval. Produced at the Opéra Studio 25 October 1975 with Nicole Broissin.
A film version was produced by Claude Autant-Lara in 1935 with Simone Berriau, Robert Burnier, Dranem and Thérèse Dorny.
Le Père Grenu, her uncle
La Mère Grenu, her aunt
Vicomte Antonin de Mourmelon
Zénobie de Guernesey, a courtesan
Roger de Lansquenet, a captain of hussars Rodolphe Duparquet
Olivier Métra
La Mère Pingret, an old market woman
Auguste, a market worker
Comtesse de Castiglione
Tranchu, Victor, Françoise, Marquise de Presles, Mayor, Bailiff, etc.
At the Parisian café Au Chien Qui Fume, the young hussar Roger de Lansquenet is celebrating his promotion to the rank of lieutenant in the company of his mildly jealous fellow soldiers (`Nous Sommes Six Hussards') and a bouquet of attentive courtesans. Roger has no particular feminine companion to share his night of celebration because it happens to be a Monday. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the lovely Zénobie de Guernesey, with whom he has been leading a tempestuous affair for the past month, is obliged to spend her time with the exceedingly rich Vicomte Antonin de Mourmelon who, understandably, is able to offer her far more in the way of material comforts than a simple lieutenant of hussars. Although de Mourmelon is only twenty-eight and passably attractive, Roger is not in the slightest hit jealous for it goes without saying that anyone who is so rich has never been young and could not possibly be loved with the passionate disinterest which characterises the sentiment between himself and Zénobie.
The party has lasted into the small hours and, since it is five o'clock, the landlord comes to shift the revellers into a different room. It is not that he wants to get rid of his customers, but soon the occupants of the private rooms will begin to emerge, and professional delicacy demands that they must be able to do so without being seen. Roger is determined to find out which social giant requires such protection for his amours (`Est-Ce Thiers?'), but the truth is that there is no one. The landlord is merely trying to give his café a cachet by pretending that he has such visitors.
Soon, however, he really does have a fine customer to welcome, for Antonin de Mourmelon arrives with Zénobie who, having led him to the Au Chien Qui Fume, immediately despatches him for a wrap so that she may rendezvous with Roger. The meeting of the hussar and his mistress is watched by another early morning visitor, the market comptroller, Duparquet, who shakes his head sadly at the frivolity of it all. Duparquet is middle-aged, a kindly but somehow sad man who remembers his own youth, its enormous sincerity and its grand love, and regrets that those passions should, in the lighthearted Paris of 1867, have dwindled to such small emotions as those displayed at the Au Chien Qui Fume (`Ce N'Était Pas la Même Chose').
Zénobie and Roger enjoy themselves in each other's company (`Toi! Vous!') until Antonin returns and discovers from Duparquet how he is being fooled. When he espies Roger amongst the revellers (`Après Cette Nuit d'Orgie'), the cuckolded Vicomte ignores Zenobie's attempts to cozen him into calm and announces before all the company that he is handing his mistress over to his rival (`Roger A Fait Votre Conquête'). With her, he is handing over all the bills for the innumerable purchases she has made in the last month, a bundle which makes the hussar blanch for, between them, he and Zénobie had thought to take the rich young man for quite a ride (`Les P'tites Femm's de Paris'). Antonin may have lost his mistress, but he has found in Duparquet a good friend who promises to lead him into happier times and, as the hussars and their ladies gambol off into the early morning streets, the two men step out with a reasonably firm stride, away from Au Chien Qui Fume and all that it represents .
At Les Halles at this hour of the morning the market gardeners are laying out their wares for the day (`Nous Sommes les Bons Maraîchers'). Today one of them is late: a little lass who brings her vegetables from the Aubervil­liers suburb is behind time and the client who has ordered her whole stock for the day at a price of 500 francs is annoyed. The reason why the darling of the market is late is that it is her twenty-first birthday and she has been so full of the joy of living that she has dallied on the way to take in the sky and the trees and all the lovely things that the first day of May brings (`Dans une Chance).
Ciboulette—for that is her unlikely name (`Moi, Je M'Appelle Ciboulette')—has taken it into her head that on this day she must have her fortune told. Since she is twenty-one, she must be thinking about marriage and, having accepted offers already from eight young men in her village, she is anxious to know what to do for the best. La Mère Pingret, who boasts of being able to predict the weather, births, unfaithfulness, the price of meat and anything to do with love, is pressed into service for forty sous to give a reading of the birthday girl's palm. Her conclusions are promising but baffling. Ciboulette is not destined to marry any of her eight fiancés; she will be rich and adored, but only on condition that she shall find her destined husband under a cabbage, that she shall win him away from a woman who will go white-haired in an instant, and that she shall receive a notice of death in a tambourine.
For the moment, Ciboulette is decidedly poor. Her client, tired of waiting for his vegetables, has gone and made his purchases elsewhere and she has lost the five hundred francs she was counting on. The weeping girl appeals to the market comptroller to enforce the purchase (`Oh! Mon Dieu! Dans Ses Yeux Que de Larmes') but, when it is revealed that she turned up half an hour late, Duparquet is obliged to give judgement in favour of the customer. He would willingly make good the girl's loss himself, but he cannot: five hundred francs is a lot of money. It is not a lot, however, to Duparquet's new friend, Antonin, and he quickly offers to make good Ciboulette's loss.
The girl is effusive in her thanks but notices that her kind benefactor is in less than sparkling form. When he tells her the sad tale of his betrayal by Zénobie she laughs and tells him that he is well rid of such a woman. Now he is free to be his own man and do as he alone wishes. It is a situation in which Antonin has never found himself before—parents, teachers, army officers and mistresses have all had him under their thumb (`Les Parents, Quand On Est Bébé')—and he wonders if he will be able to cope with making his own decisions in this world that his new friend (`Comme Frère et Soeur') has pointed out to him.
Ciboulette hurries off to work and Antonin, shattered by the effects of the night's drink and drama and unable to face returning alone to his former love nest, gratefully accepts the offer of a stallholder to curl up in his cart for a nap. As the market swings into life (`Mettons Nos Tabliers Coquets'), the flower sellers begin to cry the sale of the traditional lily of the valley with which May Day is celebrated (`Muguet, Muguet') and Ciboulette loads up the wares which she did not need to sell and prepares to head back to Aubervilliers and her farm.
Back on the farm (`C'Est le Doux Silence des Champs'), Ciboulette's uncle and aunt are getting on with their work while they await her return. Today she is bringing Monsieur Duparquet with her, for each Monday he comes to take lunch with the family Grenu (`Nous Avons Fait un Beau Voyage') but, in spite of their visitor, and in spite of the fact that it is Ciboulette's birthday, Uncle Grenu has some stern words for her. He has found out about the eight fiancés and is most annoyed. He is so annoyed that he insists that she chooses one of them right away, becomes officially engaged, and sends the rest away.
Poor Ciboulette isn't in love with any of the eight and she is in a dreadful dilemma when suddenly a head pops up from amongst the vegetables in her cart. It is Antonin wondering wherever he is. Is this what people call the `country'? Ciboulette laughingly explains that Aubervilliers is scarcely country (`C'Est Sa Banlieu') before Duparquet comes up with a bright idea. Antonin can pretend to be Nicolas, the new steward who is due to arrive that day, and Ciboulette can claim to be engaged to him and send all the eight fiancés away. And so, when the eight villagers come to line up before the Grenu farm to await their fiancée's choice (`C'Est Nous les Fiancés'), they are disappointed to find that they have all been cut out by a stranger.
Grenu, delighted to have things fixed up so well, leaves the two young people alone to cement their relationship but, since it is only supposed to be a make-believe engagement, the two of them are reduced to thinking of what would be happening if Antonin really were the steward whom he is pretend­ing to he (`Ah! Si Vous Etiez Nicolas'). But by now a realisation has come to Ciboulette. La Mère Pingret's first condition has been fulfilled: Antonin truly came to her from under a cabbage in the hack of the cart.
It just so happens that the 12th Hussars are exercising in the vicinity of Aubervilliers this morning, and the 12th Hussars are the regiment of Roger de Lansquenet and his late-night drinking friends. It also just so happens that they stop off at the Grenu farm for refreshment. Ciboulette is quick to recognise them and, in order that Antonin shall not meet up with Zénobie, she locks him in the wine cellar before entertaining the visitors with a rousing version of their regimental marching song (Chanson de Route: `Y A d'la Lune au Bord du Toit Qu'Est Ronde').
Zénobie, jealous of the effect made by this spruce little farm girl, passes some acid comments to which Ciboulette is quick to respond with equal vigour, and the argument which develops is ended dramatically when Ciboulette tips a whole bag of flour over the head of the grand town lady. The second part of the prophecy has come true! Zénobie, a dazzling brunette, goes white-haired in an instant. When Ciboulette tells her trium­phant story to Antonin, she does not get quite the response she expected. He is wretched not to have seen the one he has so long adored and he is horrified at the treatment meted out by his new friend to the woman whom he is pitifully sure still loves him.
The girl's dander rises like a geyser at this plaintive talk and she stoutly orders the quivering fellow out of the house, but as soon as he is gone she pours out her misery to the avuncular Duparquet. In return, she hears the story of a real and tragic love, his own. It is a tale set in a Paris garret where, in his youth, he and his little mistress lived and loved. From time to time she went with other men so that she might have some of the little luxuries that their money could buy her, but she always returned. Then, after one period away, she came back ill and dying. As she lay, a tiny, cold figure on their bed, she asked if she might have a muff to warm her tiny frozen hands and one of his friends sold his coat to bring the little fur to warm her last hours. But love could not save his Mimi. She died, and now, all these years later, all he has left to remember her by is a little handkerchief (`C'Est Tout Ce Qui Me Reste d'Elle') kept in his coat pocket next to his heart.
It was all a long time ago, but Rodolphe Duparquet knows something of love and, when he is convinced that Ciboulette is truly in love with Antonin, he decides that he will help her. What dazzles the silly fellow about Zénobie is her celebrity, so he will make Ciboulette equally celebrated. He has heard her rendition of the regimental marching song and has no doubt that she can make a great success as a musical theatre star. He will take her to meet the famous composer Olivier Métra right away. Ciboulette rushes off to dress up in her best clothes, just as the mayor and town council arrive to take part in the betrothal ceremony (`Nous Somm's les Bons Villageois'). To Grenu's horror, Duparquct announces that Ciboulette has been widowed before she has been wed. The bridegroom has vanished and the lady in question adds further to the scandal by appearing in her Sunday best to announce that she is heading for town to go on the stage. No longer will she be Ciboulette, but the mysterious Spanish diva Conchita Ciboulero, rich and famous. Mollified by the word `rich', the Grenus bid their niece a fond farewell and Duparquet leads her off to the city.
At a fashionable soirée at the home of Olivier Métra, the début of Conchita Ciboulero is about to take place before a shining assembly including the beautiful Comtesse de Castiglione (`Dans le Monde Quand Nous Sortons'). Antonin is there feeling very singular. He is a free man. He has quarrelled again with Zénobie and has broken with her for good but, looking around amongst the flower of Parisian beauty filling the salon, he realises that he doesn't fancy any of them (`J'Ai Vingt-Huit Ans'). He is in love with Ciboulette and he must go to Aubervilliers right away and find her. But Duparquet has grim news for him. He will not find her there for she has vanished and no one knows where.
Antonin decides that if he is never to see Ciboulette again he might as well kill himself. However, since there is absolutely no sense in killing oneself for a woman if the woman does not know about it, he will compose a heart­rending letter to be given to his beloved after his death. He is not a terribly literary fellow, so the one-time Bohemian, Duparquet, lends a hand and dictates a touching note (`Mon Amour, Daigne Me Pemettre'). The letter is put in the hands of a scornful butler, with orders from Duparquet that it shall be delivered at midnight to Senorita Ciboulero, as Antonin goes off to spend his last night on earth at the end of several bottles.
Conchita Ciboulero, dazzlingly dressed and masked, appears with her `mother'—la Mère Pingret dressed up for the occasion and unable to cope with the social graces required—and performs a glittering waltz song (`Amour Qui Meurs! Amour Qui Passes!') only to find Antonin flinging himself before her with professions of love. She takes a pencil and paper, hands them to him and commands him to write the words 'Ciboulette, I do not love you', but the young man cannot do it. Happily plucking off her mask, Ciboulette declares her love and the delirious Antonin asks her to be his wife.
But wait! The third part of the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled and la Mère Pingret cannot allow her dicta to go unproven. Then the clock chimes midnight and Métra steps forward with a little tambourine as a gift for his guest. Inside the tambourine is the letter which the butler has been asked to deliver. It is Antonin's letter announcing his own death. And so la Mère Pingret is satisfied. Fate has been allowed to run its course, and Antonin and Ciboulette can live happily ever after.