By John Kenrick
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Additional info for Musical theatre : a history
Napoleon Bonaparte, who crowned himself Emperor of France in 1804, had disposed of various European monarchs and promptly installed his relatives on the empty thrones. When Bonaparte was forced out of power in 1815, his relatives soon lost their titles. His illegitimate nephew Louis, who had been prince of Holland, resented the demotion. When the Revolution of 1848 forced the formation of a new French republic, Louis was elected president by a landslide margin. Bored by constitutional limitations, he staged a bloodless coup in 1851, and after one year as dictator, arranged a national referendum that granted him the title of Emperor.
At this point, the Duchess falls for Prince Paul’s tutor, the handsome Baron Grog, who arrives to encourage the long-delayed royal marriage but can only stick around if she marries the Prince. The wedding is quickly arranged, and with the Duchess freshly distracted, her ministers set out to humiliate Fritz by sending him off to face a nasty ambush. When the Grand Duchess strips Fritz of his rank, he happily gives up army life. ” The premiere of La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein took place at the Théâtre des Variétés on April 12, 1867, carefully timed to coincide with Napoleon III’s second Exposition Universelle.
Without outstanding scripts, Offenbach’s musicals would never have become international favorites. The words truly were as important as the music. La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867) was arguably the apex for Offenbach, Meilhac, and Halévy, and the crowning achievement of the opera-bouffes style. The story takes place in a minor duchy ruled by a coquettish noblewoman. ”): Ah! How I love the military. Their cocky uniforms, Their moustaches and their little plumes … I would like to be their canteen girl!