Opera: Girofle-Girofla – Charles Lecocq

“Giroflé-Girofla” is an opera bouffe in three acts, its music by Charles Lecocq and text by Van Loo and Aterrier. It was first produced at the Théâtre des Fantaisies Parisiennes, Brussels, March 21, 1874.


Don Bolero D’Alcarazas, a Spanish nobleman, father of the twin sisters. Marasquin, son of Marasquin & Co.; betrothed to Giroflé. Aurora, wife of Don Bolero. Giroflé, Girofla, twin sisters. Pedro. Paquita. The Pirate Chief. The Godfather. The Notary. The Uncle. The Page. The Godmother. Fernand. Gusman. A Lawyer. Servants, pirates, bridesmaids, cousins, Moors.

The scene is laid in Spain in the last century. The story relates the pecuniary difficulties of Don Bolero, who is governor of the province and possesses a variety of titles but no money. He is, in fact, badly in debt, owing 4,000,000 francs to Marasquin & Co., with no prospect of being able to pay it. His available assets consist of two daughters, twins, and so remarkably similar in appearance that they can be distinguished only by wearing scarfs of different color, one of blue and one of rose. These young ladies are of marriageable age and just when the family fortunes are at lowest ebb, their mother, Donna Aurora, who is a bit of a match-maker, betroths Giroflé to the heir of the house of Marasquin, and Girofla to Mourzouk, the Moorish chief, to whom Don Bolero is also in debt and who emphasizes his demands for payment with threats of death.

The curtain rises on the wedding-day of the twins. Marasquin comes first and is duly married to Giroflé, but before the arrival of the Moor a dreadful thing happens. Girofla is carried off by pirates and the parents are in despair at the thought of trying to appease her bridegroom. The mother again rises equal to the occasion and dispatches Admiral Matamoras in pursuit of the pirates. Giroflé then impersonates her sister and is married again, this time to the Moor. As they are waiting for the restoration of the stolen bride, Matamoras, who has been promised 10,000 piasters for his deed but who is doubtful of the paternal word in money matters, sends a message saying that he will proceed with the battle on receipt of cash. The cash ‘ is speedily collected and sent but the incident causes delay and Giroflé has a lively time posing as bride of two husbands during the interval. The situation is further complicated by the fact that she becomes intoxicated. The ingenious inventions of Don Bolero to account for the absence of the proper number of brides are remarkably amusing. Ultimately, everything is settled peaceably by the return of Giroflé’s twin sister.

This merry opera, with its light and lively melodies of a rather higher standard than those of the usual opera bouffe, contains several favorites, among them being Paquita’s ballad, “When the day’s finished and evening has come ; ” the pirates’ chorus, “The neatest and completest;” the drinking song, ” The Glistening Wine; ” the duet, ” O Pretty Girofla ” and the chorus of wedding-guests, “It is the cannon.”