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Mignon

Ambroise Thomas 1811-1896

Opéra comique in three acts and five scenes
Libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier after Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe
First performed November 17 1866, Opéra Comique, Paris

Sung in French with German & English surtitles
Introductory talks, in German, in the Holzfoyer 30 minutes before performances begin

,Neither young girl, boy or woman – Mignon is an enigma, almost not of this world: for some an »angelic child«, for others a dark-demonic freak of nature. This mysterious figure from one of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister novels inspired generations of composers. The successful team of Barbier and Carré's libretto, upon which the libretto for Gounod's Faust was based, in Goethe mad France, turned Goethe's educational journey into a real adventure of the heart. A passionate triangle emerges between the yearning creature Mignon and the seductive actress Philine. Ambroise Thomas, one of the most productive 19th century Parisian operatic composers, found world fame with his Mignon – not Hamlet. In the first thirty years after the world premiere in 1866 it was performed a thousand times at the Opéra-Comique alone. It was staged regularly for nearly a hundred years. The first Mignon was the French star mezzo-soprano Célestine Galli-Marié, who wrote operatic history nearly a decade later as the first Carmen. Thomas contrasts Mignon's dark timbre with a high coloratura for easy-going Philine. Romantic-lyric sentiment, temperament and elegant vocal lines are the ingredients for one of the most successful Opéra comiques.