LE POSTILLON DE LONJUMEAU
Opéra Comique en 3 actes
By Adolphe Adam
Libretto : Adolphe de Leuven & Léon Brunswick
First performed : Théâtre Royal de l’Opéra-Comique (salle de la Bourse), 13 October 1836
For my review, see here.
Chappelou, postilion, later Saint-Phar, singer (tenor) : Jean-Baptiste Chollet
Le marquis de Corcy, intendant of the royal spectacles (tenor) : Edmond-Jules Delaunay-Ricquier
Biju, blacksmith, Chapelou’s friend, later Alcindor, chorister (bass): François-Louis Henri
Bourdon, chorister (bass): M. Roy
Madeleine, later Madame de Latour, Chapelou’s wife (soprano) : Geneviève-Aimé-Zoë Prévost
Rose, soubrette (soprano) : Mme Roy
Setting : Longjumeau in 1756 and Fontainebleau in 1766
Acte I: The public square in Longjumeau.
Chapelou the postilion (a person who rides the left-hand side horse of a team or pair drawing a coach or carriage, especially when there is no coachman) celebrates his wedding with Madeleine. He asks the village’s blacksmith, Biju, to take care of the coach, if necessary, so that he could stay with Madeleine. But Biju refuses to render him this service. The Marquis de Corcy, intendant of the royal shows, arrives, looking for a tenor. He is obliged to stop in the village, because his carriage has had an accident. According to an old custom the peasants take away the bride, while Chapelou is obliged to redeem himself by a song. The intendant hears his beautiful voice and offers him a position as a tenor with the Opéra. Chapelou accepts and accompanies the Marquis to Paris without bidding farewell to his wife.
- Chœur : Le joli mariage
- Duo : Quoi, tous les deux
- Morceau d’ensemble et ronde du postillon
- Trio : A mes désirs il faut
Acte II : Madame de Latour’s reception room at Fontainebleau. Ten years later.
Chapelou, under the pseudonym of Saint-Phar, has become famous. His friend Biju, the blacksmith of the village, accompanied him to the Opera, and under the name of Alcindor he succeeded thanks to his bass voice to become the head of the chorus. Madeleine, too, has been lucky during the last ten years. She inherited an immense fortune from an aunt and adopted the name of Madame de Latour. Still, she still loves the postilion. The Marquis has fallen in love with Madame de Latour, and Chapelou is obliged to sing a song the Marquis composed in their honour. Without recognising her, he pays court to her. She also agrees to grant him his hand, but not without giving him a good lesson. She sends him a letter from his wife, and Madame de Latour pretends that she was offended by the fact that he had courted her while being married. It is then that he denies everything and to prove the truth of his words he wants to marry her immediately. A singer must secretly replace the priest. But the marquis brings a real parish priest who marries the couple.
- Entr’acte et air : Je vais donc le revoir
- Morceau d’ensemble et chœur : Ah ! quel tourment
- Air : Oui des choristes du théâtre
- Duo : Grâce au hasard je puis, madame
- Finale : Ah ! quelle étonnante nouvelle
Acte III : The bridal chamber.
St. Phar is overjoyed. By his deceit, he believes he possesses his beloved Mme de la Tour His companions, however, explain to him that the marquis has duped him, and take flight. He is desperate, for now he is married to two different women, a crime which is punished with the death penalty. The Marquis, irritated at the supposition that Saint-Phar had supplanted him, does not hesitate to denounce him in order to avenge himself. Madeleine appears suddenly in the darkened room, talking to him sometimes as Madame de Latour, sometimes as Madeleine asserting her rights as a wife. The Marquis finally arrives, accompanied by the guard, to arrest the guilty party. While she is surrounded, Madame de Latour explains the misunderstanding, revealing herself as Madeleine to Saint-Phar. The refrain of the song of the postilion ends the play.
- Chœur : Du vrai bonheur gouteries
- Grand air : A la noblesse je m’allie
- Trio : Pendu ! pendu !
- Duo et finale : A ma douleur soyez sensible
Félix Clément, Dictionnaire des opéras, 1869
« Le livret est d’une gaieté et d’une invraisemblance fort plaisantes et est dans le goût des canevas italiens joués sous le nom d’opéras-comiques au théâtre de la Foire. La musique est bien commune, mais franche et du meilleur style d’Adam. L’air chanté par Henri : Combattons, chantons, est une amusante parodie des chœurs d’opéra. Les couplets chantés par Chollet : Oh ! qu’il est beau, le postillon de Lonjumeau ! et le motif : Mon petit mari ont eu une fatigante popularité. Quand au trio : Pendu ! pendu ! on ne peut nier qu’il ne soit fort comique. Le Postillon de Lonjumeau a obtenu un grand succès et a valu au compositeur les honneurs du suffrage universel. »
The libretto is of a very pleasant gaiety and improbability, and is in the style of the Italian pieces played under the name of comic operas at the Théâtre de la Foire. The music is very common, but frank and in Adam’s best style. The air sung by Henri: Combattons, chantons, is an amusing parody of opera choruses. The verses sung by Chollet: Oh! qu’il est beau, le postillon de Lonjumeau! and the tune: Mon petit mari were tiresomely popular. It cannot be denied that the trio: Pendu! pendu! is very comic. Le Postillon de Lonjumeau obtained a great success and earned the composer universal acclaim.