Mirette

Book and lyrics by Michel Carré, Fred E. Weatherly, Adrian Ross; Music by Andr√© Messager

Savoy Theatre, London,3 July 1894

Synopsis

The scene is Flanders in 1785. Mirette is a foundling living among the Gypsies. At the beginning of the opera, the gypsy chief Francal asks Mirette to choose among the gypsy bachelors for a husband, but she is unable to choose, despite the fact that Picorin, one of the gypsy crew, is in love with her. She believes instead that she is destined for a better life and dreams that her unknown parents are of the nobility. The Gypsies have camped on the property owned by the Marquise de Montigny. Mirette falls asleep by the campfire and wakes to find Gerard, nephew of the Marquise, standing over her. Gerard is entranced by her beauty, and she finds herself similarly attracted. However, he leads the arrest of the Gypsies for trespassing. However, Mirette and Picorin are taken to the chateau of the Marquise to become servants in her household.

In act two, Mirette is discovered one month later in the service of the world-weary Marquise, who is planning the engagement party for Gerard and Bianca, the convent-raised daughter of the Baron Van Den Berg. Gerard's attraction to Mirette has grown to infatuation. When the guests gather for the signing of the marriage contract, the Marquise commands Mirette to sing and dance a bohemian dance as the evening's principal entertainment and as a way to point out the vast differences in station between Mirette and Gerard, thus killing any infatuation they may have for each other. During the dance, during which Francal and the other Gypsies join in the chorus, Gerard cannot take his eyes off Mirette, a fact noticed by Bianca and all the guests. However, the Marquise maneuvers Bianca into Gerard's close company, humiliating Mirette, who escapes from the chateau with the other Gypsies. Just as he is about to sign the marriage contract, Gerard hears the Gypsies singing in the distance. He throws down his pen and rushes madly from the scene. (In the revised version of the opera, Gerard runs off with Mirette and the Gypsies to live the colorful life of a bohemian.)

Act three finds Mirette and Picorin at a village fair three weeks later. Picorin is still unable to express himself; the two indulge in a nicely conceived duet where they cover their emotions for each other behind eating a meal uncomfortably. Gerard, the Marquise, Bianca, and the Baron are all also at the fair. (In the revised version of the opera, Gerard is at the fair in Mirette's company, doing a bad job as a gypsy performer.) Mirette realizes that Bianca loves Gerard and arranges for the two of them to reconcile. She also realizes the extent of her love for Picorin, and the two of them also arrange to wed. (In the revised version of the opera, not only do Mirette and Picorin and Gerard and Bianca end up together; the Marquise and the Baron, lovers of old, are also on their way to the altar.)

Main Musical Numbers

  1. Song of the Duck - Bobinet and Chorus
  2. Roaming on With Never a Rest - Mirette with Chorus
  3. When Winter Gales Were Loud - Francal, Mirette, and Chorus
  4. Now Stars Above the Forest Glimmer - Picorin
  5. Long Ago in Alcala - Bobinet
  6. Up a Tree! - Bobinet, Gerard, and Baron
  7. So Forward Through the Fading Light - Mirette
  8. In Quiet Convent Closes - Gerard
  9. The Programme I'll Discuss With You - Bobinet and Marquise
  10. But Yesterday in Convent Gray - Bianca
  11. When Noah Sailed His Good Old Ark - Bobinet, Picorin, and Gerard
  12. Fan Song - Marquise and Chorus
  13. Once a Cavalier of Spain - Mirette with Chorus
  14. Long Bow Song - Bobinet, Zerbinette, and Chorus
  15. There Was Once a Pretty Peasant - Mirette
  16. Ah, Monseiuer le Baron - Marquise and Baron
  17. Act III Finale - Ensemble

Cast

  • Mirette, a gypsy maiden (soprano)
  • Gerard de Montigny, nephew of the Marquise (baritone)
  • Picorin, a gypsy, in love with Mirette (tenor)
  • Bianca, daughter of the Baron Van Den Berg (soprano)
  • The Marquise de Montigny (contralto)
  • Francal, the gypsy chief (bass-baritone)
  • The Baron Van Den Berg (bass)
  • Bobinet, a gypsy (comic baritone)
  • Bertuccio, another gypsy (baritone)
  • Zerbinette, a gypsy girl (mezzo-soprano)
  • Max, Gerard's gamekeeper (speaking role)
  • The Burgomaster (baritone)
  • The Notary (baritone)