“Veronique, the Flower Girl” a comic opera in three acts, with music by Andre Messager and book by Van Loo and Duval, was first produced in Paris in 1898.
Florestan de Vaillancourt. Monsieur Loustot, a bailiff. Seraphin, a groom. Octave, Felicien, Florestan ‘s friends. Monsieur Coquenard. Ermerance, Countess de Champ Azur. Agatha, Madame Coquenard. Aunt Benoit. Denise, her niece. Hélène de Soulanges. An orderly of the national reserve, waiters, florists, and others.
The action of the opera takes place in 1840 in Paris, the merry pleasure-loving Paris of the reign of Louis Philippe. The scene shifts from one picturesque spot to another; Coquenard’s flowershop being shown, the woods in the park at Romainville and the reception-room in the Tuileries. Monsieur Coquenard is a whimsical old flower shop proprietor, who, in spite of his eminently peaceful pursuit, greatly covets military honor. His flirtations with the girls in the shop, the aforesaid military ambition and the difficulty he has with his sword, when he finally possesses one, form the principal comedy elements.
The story chiefly concerns itself with the prank of Hélène de Soulanges, a maid of honor at the Bourbon Court. She is to be a party to a n mariage de convenance and much dislikes the idea of a union without love. The affianced, by the way, have never met. Hélène and her aunt visit the florist and from a gallery the girl beholds Florestan, her betrothed, for the first time. He is flirting desperately with the handsome Madame Coquenard and the whole shop full of fascinating flower girls. He is sufficiently pleasing to Hélène to rouse her jealousy and later her deep resentment, when he describes the dismay with which he awaits his approaching marriage.
The sly Hélène herself assumes the guise of a flower girl and as the bewitching Veronique, wins the exclusive attention of the fickle Florestan to the chagrin of Madame Coquenard, whose susceptible husband also shows symptoms of undue interest in his charming employée. Florestan bewails more bitterly than ever his approaching martyrdom, Hélène now enjoying these expressions to the utmost.
They meet again at a rustic wedding, where Coquenard engages in a lively affair with Hélène’s aunt, who is also in disguise, while Florestan makes an impassioned declaration to the humble flower girl who has so spoiled his peace of mind. As the hour is approaching for her formal reception of her fiancé, she hastily escapes from Florestan’s attention by donning the veil of the bride. A little later, when in great state she meets the sad young nobleman in the reception-room of the Tuileries and he discovers that the charming Veronique and Hélène are one and the same, his delight and embarrassment may easily be imagined.
The success which awaited this opera shows that the world finds itself just as much in sympathy with the maiden who wants to be loved for herself as it did in the days of the ” Rose of Castile.” A more graceful, refined and wholly amusing creation than ” Veronique ” could not be desired. The repartee is delightfully witty and the music is dainty and tuneful. The captivating ” Swing Song,” sung by Veronique and Florestan in the second act usually soon appears on the pianos of those who have heard it; the song and chorus, ” The bloom of an apple tree; ” the quartet ” Between us all is over; ” and Coquenard’s humorous song “Ask me not ” also are deservedly popular.