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The Bandits

Jacques Offenbach 1819–1880

Opéra bouffe in 3 acts
Libretto by Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halévy
First performed December 10 1869, Théâtre des Variétés, Paris

Sung in German with German & English surtitles

Introductory talks (in German) in the Holzfoyer 30 minutes before performances begin
There's a chamber music concert on February 18 inspired by this work

Life as a bandit ain’t what it used to be. Robber chief Falsacappa’s having trouble keeping his men happy: Recent forays raked in next to nothing.

When the robbers raided Fragoletto's farm he fell in love with Falsacappa’s daughter Fiorella, and she with him. So now he wants to be a bandit too. To prove he's up to the job he makes an interesting catch: by kidnapping a ministerial courier. From papers in his possession they discover that the Princess of Granada’s on her way to marry the Prince of Mantua. Most of her dowry consists of money the Mantuans owe Spain. The rest – 3 million – is to be given to the delegation from Granada when they arrive.

Falsacappa cooks up a plan: to beat the Spanish to it and get his hands on the money himself. To this end the robbers, disguised as pilgrims, attack the inn »on the border between Italy and Spain«, where the Spanish are expected, posing as landlord Pipo and his kitchen staff. Once they’ve caught the delegation from Granada they swap roles with them. At the court of Mantua, however, it turns out that the treasurer has long since frittered the money away on private affairs: they’re broke. State authorities are obviously more criminal than bandits – but the carabinieri can’t do a thing, turning up too late in their heavy boots yet again.

Jacques Offenbach, the master of satirical-biting wit and virtuosic situation comedy, proves he’s still at the top of his game with his operetta about robbers, always a popular theme.