La poupée

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Work data
Title: The doll
Original title: La poupée
Shape: operetta
Original language: French
Music: Edmond Audran
Libretto : Maurice Ordonneau and Albin Valabrègue
Premiere: October 21, 1896
Place of premiere: Paris
Playing time: about two hours
Place and time of the action: French small town at the end of the 19th century
  • Maximius, Abbot ( bass )
  • Lancelot, a novice ( tenorbuffo )
  • Friars:
    • Aguelet ( tenor )
    • Balthasar (tenor)
    • Benoist (bass)
    • Basil (bass)
  • Baron Chanterelle (tenor)
  • Loremois, his friend (tenor)
  • Hilarius, puppet maker (tenor)
  • His wife ( soprano )
  • Alesia Hilarius, daughter of the couple Hilarius ( Soubrette )
  • Guduline, partner
  • Heinrich, apprentice with Hilarius
  • Pierre and Jacques, servants of the Baron Chanterelle
  • Marie, maid
  • Monks, farmers, craftsmen, wedding guests ( choir and extras)

La poupée (German: The Doll ) is a French operetta ( Opéra-comique ) in three acts with a prelude by Edmond Audran . The libretto is by Maurice Ordonneau and Albin Valabrègue . The work had its world premiere on October 21, 1896 at the Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris . In German-speaking countries, the operetta was first staged on January 7, 1899 in the Central-Theater Berlin in the German text version by Alfred Maria Willner .



Image: Klosterhof

The friars are in dire straits because the people's mood to donate has slackened. But there is hope: the novice Lancelot's uncle , the respected Baron Chanterelle, has promised his nephew that he will give him 100,000 francs as soon as he gets married. Although this plan is not compatible with the monastic commandment of celibacy , a little cheating will ultimately not upset the good Lord. The head of the monastery, Maximius, recently got his hands on an advertisement in which a certain Hilarius offers self-made dolls that can hardly be distinguished from living female beings. Maximius therefore advises his novice to buy such a toy and pass it off to his uncle as a bride. After the “wedding” he should then send the money to the religious order , which could do a lot of good with it. Lancelot immediately exchanges his habit for a secular suit and sets off.

first act

Image: workshop with shop

Hilarius gazes at his latest creation with fascination: a beautiful doll that looks exactly like his daughter Alesia. If she only had one soul now, he would fall in love with her too. Alesia, on the other hand, hates her father's work because it distracts him too much from the family. When Hilarius has left the shop for a moment, she grips the doll a little rudely and pulls one arm out of her. She quickly brings the doll to the apprentice Heinrich and asks him to carefully repair it. As a precaution, she also hides her father's glasses. He should only find it when the doll is whole again.

Meanwhile, Lancelot enters the shop and describes his wish to Hilarius. When describing it, the doll maker immediately thinks of his latest work and calls his apprentice to bring it to him. Because the repairs are still a long way off, Alesia has no choice but to play the doll herself. Lancelot is thrilled with the demonstration. He pays for the "goods" and sets off with her to see his uncle.

Second act

Image: Elegant salon

Today is supposed to be the wedding. Numerous guests have gathered in the villa of Baron Chanterelle and admire the beautiful bride. At the wedding, however, the guests find it a bit strange how unnaturally the young woman moves. As soon as the ceremony is over, Lancelot enjoys his uncle's generous wedding gift.

Third act

Image: Corridor in the monastery with a view of Lancelot's room

Lancelot is warmly received by the brothers. The abbot allows him to take the doll with him to his cell. When Lancelot fell asleep, Alesia sits on him and kisses him passionately. The following morning the novice realizes that he has married a girl of flesh and blood rather than a doll. This fills him with great joy, especially since he has loved the doll from the beginning and always wished it were a human being. Because he is now properly married, the brothers have to renounce his stay behind the monastery walls. For this they console themselves with the windfall that Lancelot has given them.

Musical highlights

  • I can dance, sing, chat (song of Alesia, pretending to be a doll)
  • To him, only to him the soul is hot (waltz song)
  • Yes contentment, pious serenity are the golden stars of the lifetime (song of Maximius)


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