Home / Works / Ali-Baba (Busnach & Vanloo / Lecocq)

Print content of page

Ali-Baba (Busnach & Vanloo / Lecocq)

Date

1887.11.11

Description

Féérie en quatre actes et douze tableaux. Créé à l'Alhambra (Bruxelles). 

Text

When Debruyère, the director of the Théâtre de la Gaîté, rejected Ali-Baba, Lecocq turned to Brussels, where his La Fille de Madame Angot and Giroflé-Girofla had already been enthusiastically received. He was given the go-ahead by Albert Oppenheim, the new director of the Théâtre de l’Alhambra, where his three-act opéra comique was triumphantly premiered on 11 November 1887 (122 performances were to follow). In the 19th century, the character of Ali Baba was a great source of inspiration for various genres throughout Europe: a melodrama by Pixerécourt with a score by Alexandre (1822), incidental music by Marschner (1823), an opera by Cherubini (1833), an opéra comique by Giovanni Bottesini (1871), an opérette-féerie by Henrique Alves de Mesquita (1872), and an opéra bouffe by Nibelle (1872). In Lecocq’s music, only the Chant du Muezzin in Act III is oriental in colour. The main use of exoticism, employed for entertainment value, is in the libretto by Albert Vanloo and William Busnach, while the composer concentrates on the eventful plot and robust characters (particularly that of the heroine Morgiane, Ali-Baba’s maidservant, who wins her master’s heart). Lecocq touches and delights the audience (Morgiane’s Chanson du Bengali, Ali-Baba’s Romance “Jamais je ne vis plus beaux yeux”), amuses them with comic numbers (Zobéïde’s Couplets “Vous avez la tête bien dure”, the duet between Zizi and Cassim “Nous allons à ta toilette”), and imbues the action with dynamic power by his use of vigorous ensembles and choruses. In addition, Lecocq amply displays his talents as an orchestrator (greatly admired at the premiere) in the linking episodes, the numerous passages of incidental music and the extensive ballet in Act II. The lyricism in in certain places clearly shows the stylistic influence of Gounod and Saint-Saëns.