“The Mascot,” a comic opera in three acts with music by Edmund Audran and words by Chivat and Duru, was first produced in Paris in 1880.
Bettina, the Mascot. Fiametta, daughter of Lorenzo XVII. Pippo, a shepherd. Lorenzo XVII., Prince of Piombino. Rocco, a farmer. Frederic, Prince of Pisa. Parafante, sergeant. atheo, innkeeper. Peasants, lords and ladies of court, soldiers and others.
The scene of the opera is laid in Piombino, Italy, in the Fifteenth Century. The curtain rises on a farm, where the peasants are celebrating the vintage festival. Rocco, the farmer, sits morose and aloof and when asked the reason of his gloom, declares that he is pursued by ill-luck. Pippo arrives from Rocco’s brother to whom he has sent for aid, bringing only a basket of eggs and a letter in which he informs him that he is sending his turkey-keeper, Bettina, who has the gift of bringing happiness and prosperity to any hearth at which she resides. But when she appears, a very rosebud of a girl, she does not receive an overwarm welcome, for the practical Rocco would have preferred more tangible benefits to a mascot.
A royal hunting party, including Prince Lorenzo and his daughter, Fiametta, Prince Frederic and the members of the court arrive for rest and refreshment. Lorenzo also fancies himself ill-starred and, learning by accident of the almost supernatural virtue said to belong to Bettina, he determines to take her to his court. To make amends to Rocco for appropriating his mascot, he promises to make him Court Chamberlain. He also creates Bettina Countess of Panada, while poor Pippo, who has fallen in love with the girl, is left disconsolate.
In the second act, a fête is to be given at the palace in honor of the approaching marriage of Fiametta and Frederic, the crown prince. Bettina, now a fine lady and supposed to be the king’s favorite, is weary of splendor and wants only her shepherd lover, Pippo. A play given by a company of strolling actors is one feature of the entertainment. A leading member of the troupe turns out to be Pippo in disguise. He and Bettina plan to fly from Court but Rocco, recognizing him, causes his arrest. The bride, meantime, falls in love with handsome Pippo and discards Frederic and, to make better her chances with the shepherd, tells him that Bettina is false and is about to be married to her father. But Pippo and Bettina have an understanding and escape by leaping from a window over-looking the river.
The third act takes place in an inn in the Duchy of Pisa. Naturally, the friendship between Lorenzo and Frederic has come to an end. The soldiers are celebrating the victory of Frederic’s troops over the army of his whilom son-in-law that was to be. Pippo, who is one of Frederic’s captains, and Bettina, who has fought through the war in the disguise of a trooper, are here and they decide to be married without delay. While preparations are under way for the happy event, Lorenzo, Fiametta and Rocco who, owing to military reverses have been reduced to minstrels, arrive at the inn. Fiametta goes back gladly to her old lover, Frederic, and the two rival Pippo and Bettina in happiness.
Favorite portions of this melodious and merry opera are the peasants’ chorus, ” Now the vintage time is over; ” Pippo’s ballad, ” One day, the arch-fiend, drunk with pride;” Bettina’s “Kiss Song;” the song of superstition sung by Lorenzo and the chorus; the coaching chorus at the end of the first act; the number for Pippo as Saltarelle, “All hail to you, my lords; ” the mutual admiration duet of Pippo and Bettina; the Rataplan song of Frederic; the Orang-Outang song of Fiametta and the chorus, beginning
The big ape, who at Piombino Ruled, and ruined with red tape.