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French director Mariame Clément makes her Royal Opera debut with Chabrier’s fabulously frothy comic opera.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of L'Étoile. It was last on stage 1–24 February 2016 as part of the Winter 2015/16 season.

The Story

King Ouf I always celebrates his birthday with a public impalement and has gone in disguise among his people to find a suitable victim. The forthright young pedlar Lazuli has just fallen in love with Princess Laoula (also in disguise) and is appalled to learn she is already betrothed, to Ouf. Unknowingly Lazuli insults Ouf, who thinks he has found his candidate – until court astrologer Siroco reveals that the stars of Lazuli and Ouf are so closely bound that if Lazuli dies so will Ouf. Lazuli is instead brought to the palace to be pampered.

Read more… (Contains spoilers)


Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–94) is a relatively obscure figure today, but the greatest of his comic operas – Le Roi malgré lui (The King in Spite of Himself) and L’Étoile (The Star) among them – are masterpieces of the genre. L’Étoile was first performed on 28 November 1877 and was one of Chabrier’s few operatic successes, going on to have 48 performances in its first run. This popularity was not to continue, and for almost the entirety of the 20th century it was absent from the stage. Recent years, though, have seen more performances of L’Étoile, as leading opera companies, great conductors and audiences discover the unique charms of this wacky operatic delight.

Beneath L’Étoile’s bafflingly ridiculous plot there is music of tremendous craft, imagination and beauty – with an extra serving of extremely dark humour. Lyrical moments, such as ‘O petite étoile’ where Lazuli thanks his lucky star, sit amid a fabulous array of raucously imaginative comedy: highlights include the ‘Trio de chatouillement’ (Tickling Trio); the ‘Duetto de la Chartreuse verte’, as Ouf and Siroco fortify themselves with the green liqueur; and the disconcertingly catchy ‘Couplets de pal’, where Ouf sings of his love of impaling people. Mariame Clément (Don Pasquale at Glyndebourne) makes her Royal Opera debut with this new production, which brings to life Chabrier’s surreal and lovely world.

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