La princesse de Trébizonde

Composer: Offenbach Jacques

Instruments: Voice Mixed chorus Orchestra

Tags: Operas bouffes Operas Comic opera


Download free scores:

Revised version, 3 acts. Act I PDF 16 MBRevised version, 3 acts. Act II PDF 15 MBRevised version, 3 acts. Act III PDF 15 MB

Parts for:

AllViolinViolaTromboneTimpaniPiccoloOboeFrench hornFluteCornetClarinetCelloBassoon



Piano (Unknown)
La princesse de Trébizonde is an opéra bouffe with music by Jacques Offenbach and text by Étienne Tréfeu and Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter. The work was first given in two acts at the Theater Baden-Baden on 31 July 1869 and subsequently presented in a revised three act version at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens on 7 December of the same year.
1869 was a productive and successful year for Offenbach. Vert-Vert, an opéra comique by him in three acts had its premiere at the Paris Opéra-Comique on 10 March. This was followed less than two weeks later by the first performances of his opéra bouffe La diva at the Bouffes-Parisiens on 22 March. On 31 July La princesse de Trébizonde was given its premiere at Baden-Baden under the direction of the composer. In December of the same year, in the space of five days, the revised three-act version of La princesse de Trébizonde had its first performance on the 7th at the Bouffes-Parisiens, followed by the world premiere of the three act opéra bouffe Les brigands on the 10th at the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris and the premiere of the one act La romance de la rose took place at the Bouffes-Parisiens the following day.
A public square
Cabriolo is the proprietor of a funhouse in a traveling carnival. The attractions in the funhouse include a group of waxworks including a beautiful one of the princess of Trébizonde. Among the members of the travelling entertainers are also Cabriolo's sister Paola, who is an acrobat, his daughters Zanetta and Regina, and Trémolini, Regina's former sweetheart. While dusting the waxwork of the princess of Trébizonde, Zanetta accidentally breaks its nose off and therefore she has no choice but to impersonate the statue herself. A nobleman, Prince Raphaël, comes to visit the funfair and instead of paying for admission in money he is allowed to give a lottery ticket to the troupe in order to gain entrance. Prince Raphaël falls madly in love with, as he thinks, the waxwork of the princess. The troupe of entertainers are amazed and overjoyed to receive the news that the lottery ticket has won and the prize is - a castle!
The castle
Six months have passed, and Cabriolo and his band of entertainers are not finding life in a castle nearly as glamourous as they had imagined it would be. In fact they are all terribly bored and miss their previous lives as travelling players. Out on a hunting trip, Prince Raphaël, his father Prince Casimir and his tutor Sparadrap present themselves at the castle. Raphaël persuades his father to purchase all the waxwork figures of the old funhouse and to make Cabriolo curator of a museum containing them.
Prince Casimir's palace
Cabriolo has been elevated to the title of "Baron of La Cascatella" and he and his family are living in Prince Casimir's palace. Trémolini and Regina have re-kindled their romance, and Prince Raphael's tutor Sparadrap and Paola the lady acrobat have also fallen for each other. Prince Raphaël has discovered that "the princess of Trébizonde" he so loves is not a statue but a real girl, Zanetta. This presents difficulties as he explains to her, because while being in love with a waxwork is harmless enough, his father would never allow him to marry a girl so far below him in rank as Zanetta is. Prince Casimir turns up and is indeed displeased to find his son in love with a carnival performer, but when it is discovered that he himself had once been married to a lady acrobat - Paola's sister - he can offer no objection to his son's choice, and the work concludes with festive preparations for a triple marriage.
The work was a success with audiences and critics, and was revived at the Bouffes-Parisiens in 1871, 1875 and 1876. The larger Théâtre des Variétés presented the work in 1888 with Christian (Cabriolo), Cooper (Tremolini), Barral (Casimir), Georges (Sparadrap), Mary Albert (Prince Raphael), Mily-Meyer (Regina), Crouzet (Zanetta) and Aubrys (Paola).
La princesse de Trébizonde was given productions in London and Brussels, among other cities, in 1870, and Offenbach was in London for the week of the 1870 production at the Gaiety; in his Gaiety Chronicles John Hollingshead noted that Offenbach "passed his evenings chiefly at the few music halls which London could boast of". The following year saw the piece produced in New York and Berlin as well as other international centres.
It was given in the 1966 Vienna Festival weeks conducted by Walter Goldschmidt, in a Wolfgang Glück production, and at the State Theatre Brunswick in 1975. The Wiener Kammeroper performed it in a production by Fritz Muliar in 1985, with Anton Duschek as the tutor Sparadrap, Michael Pinkerton as Tremolini and Sabine Rossert as the Princess.
Recent productions include performances in Baden-Baden, where the original version of the piece had its premiere, in 2015, in Limoges, France, in 2016, and Hildesheim Stadttheater in 2019.
A recording in Russian from 1954 with the USSR State Radio Orchestra and Chorus of an hour of music from the opera was issued as two 10 inch LPs and one 12 inch LP by Melodiya. A complete French radio recording from 1966 conducted by Marcel Cariven with Lina Dachary as Zanetta was issued by Malibran records in 2016. The overture was included in a CD entitled Gruss aus Baden-Baden! with the Baden-Badener Philharmonie conducted by Werner Stiefel (Sterling CDS 1062-2) in 2004, and on a CPO CD with the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt under Howard Griffiths in 2019.