Les p'tites Michu

Les p'tites Michu

Les p'tites Michu is an operetta in three acts, composed by André Messager. The libretto is by Albert Vanloo and Georges Duval.

Dismayed by the Paris reception for his 1896 piece, "Le Chevalier d’Harmental", Messager retreated to London vowing to write no more. But when he received the libretto for "Les p'tites Michu" in 1897 from Vanloo and Duval, he was inspired to finish the new operetta in three months. Encouraged by this success, the same team produced Messager's most successful operetta, "Veronique", in 1898. [ [http://perso.orange.fr/anao/oeuvre/ptitesmichu.html French site with information about the operetta, including background, synopsis, cast and discography] ]

Performance history

The first performance was at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris on 16 November 1897. The production ran for over 150 performances, with a cast that included Alice Bonheur (Marie-Blanche), Odette Dulac (Blanche-Marie), L. Laporte (Mlle Herpin), Mme Vigouroux (Mme Michu), Barral (des Ifs), Regnard (Michu), Maurice Lamy (Aristide), Marchand (Gaston), and Brunais (Bagnolet).

The piece enjoyed a long run in London eight years later under the title The Little Michus. The English adaptation was by Henry Hamilton, with lyrics by Percy Greenbank, and was produced at Daly's Theatre in London, opening on 29 April 1905, and running for 401 performances. The London production starred Robert Evett, Amy Augarde, Huntley Wright, and the dancer Adeline Genée. Later, Henry Lytton and Lily Elsie joined the cast.

"The Little Michus" had a Broadway run in 1907 and was an international hit, continuing to be revived.


In 1793, the wife of the Marquis des Ifs dies in childbirth. The Marquis, before disappearing to evade arrest, entrusts the infant girl to the Michus, paying the family a sum of money that allows them to open a prosperous shop. The Michus have a daughter of their own. While bathing the two babies, Mr. Michus mixes them up and cannot tell which is which.

;Act IBy 1810, the girls, Blanche-Marie and Marie-Blanche have grown up together, believing themselves to be twins, and have gone to school under the military Miss Herpin. Aristide, the Michu's clerk, is in love with one of the one of the girls but is not sure which. Marquis des Ifs, now a general, sends Bagnolet to find his daughter, whose hand he has promised to lieutenant Gaston Rigaud, the officer who saved his life. It turns out that Gaston is Miss Herpin's nephew, and while visiting his aunt, the girls meet the handsome lieutenant, and both are enchanted. Bagnolet finds the Michus. Embarrassed at being unable to name the general's daughter, they agree to meet the general.

;Act IIThe general and his guests await the arrival of his daughter. When the Michus arrive, the general is impatient with their explanation: he wants to know which girl is his daughter and will marry the lieutenant. Knowing that her sister is enamored of Gaston, Blanche-Marie decides to make a sacrifice and identifies her sister as the general's daughter.

;Act IIIWith a sad heart, Blanche-Marie resigns herself to marry Aristede, whom she finds exceedingly uninteresting. On the other hand, and to the astonishment of her fiance and the Marquis, Marie-Blanche goes to help at the shop at every opportunity. She realizes that she has made a mistake: her sister loves Gaston, and she herself would prefer the common life of the shop and marriage to Aristde. The day of the double wedding, Marie-Blanche looks for a portrait of the Marquis' wife. Her idea is to dress Blanche-Marie as the late Marchionesse. The resemblance is astonishing. The Marquis believes that he sees his wife: Blanche-Marie must be his daughter.

The two couples are sorted out and all ends happily.

Roles and original London cast

*General des Ifs - Willie Edouin
*Gaston Rigaud, "Captain of the Hussars" (baritone) Robert Evett
*Pierre Michu, "a provision merchant" (tenor) Ambrose Manning
*Aristide Vert, "his assistant" (baritone) Louis Bradfield
*Bagnolet, "soldier servant to General Des Ifs" (tenor) Huntley Wright
*Madame Du Tertre - Deborah Volar
*Madame Rousselin - Gracie St. George
*Mlle Herpin, "school mistress" - Vera Beringer
*Madame Michu, "Michu's wife" (contralto) Amy Augarde
*Marie-Blanche, Blanche-Marie (The Little Michus) (sopranos) Adrienne Augarde and Mabel Green
*Six schoolgirls

Musical numbers (English adaptation)

*Overture Act I - The Playground of Mlle. Herpin's School in Paris - circa 1810
*No. 1 - Opening Chorus - "We are little schoolgirls, and of course we have to do ev'ry single thing that our headmistress..."
*No. 2 - Duet - Marie-Blanche & Blanche-Marie - "Two little maids so very devoted you seldom are likely to see..."
*No. 3 - Song - Irma - "Father had three horses of his very, very own, a black one and a white one and a grey..."
*No. 4 - Song - Gaston - "If I were King and you were Queen, and this our first and formal meeting..."
*No. 5 - Trio - Marie-Blanche, Blanche-Marie & Gaston - "Michu! Michu! Michu! It's the family surname..."
*No. 5a - Entrance of Soldiers
*No. 6 - Song - Gaston & Chorus - "Oh! many a gallant corps today is fighting for our glorious France..."
*No. 7 - Song - Marie-Blanche - "When I meet a man like that, with a fascinating way..."
*No. 8 - Trio - Michu, Mme. Michu & Aristide - "So elegantly dress'd in all our Sunday best..."
*No. 9 - Concerted Number - Blanche-Marie, Marie-Blanche, Mme. & M. Michu, & Pupils - "Our fairy god-mamma is here..."
*No. 10 - Song - Aristide - "Oh, Marie-Blanche is so petite, she's just the very girl for me..."
*No. 11 - Song - Bagnolet - "Now, little girls, attention please, we will at once begin..."
*No. 12 - Finale Act I - "Your mistress we would like, my dears, to see; we've news that will surprise her, I'm afraid..."

Act II - Salon at General Des Ifs
*No. 13 - Opening Chorus & Song - Mme. du Tertre - "We have come from far and near..." & "Once there was a tiny baby..."
*No. 14 - Song - Gaston - "How very like children we all of us are, whom no one seems able to teach..."
*No. 15 - Quintet - Blanche-Marie, Marie-Blanche, Michu, Mme. Michu, & Bagnolet - "Hop o' my Thumb."
*No. 16 - Duet - Marie-Blanche & Blanche-Marie - "Oh dear, oh dear! Oh dear, oh dear! We have made a mistake somehow..."
*No. 17 - Prayer - Marie-Blanche & Blanche-Marie - "Saint Valentine, we know you are clever..."
*Nos. 18 & 18a - Trio and Prayer - Marie-Blanche, Blanche-Marie & Gaston - "So you'll wed the General's daughter! ..."
*No. 19 - Finale Act II - "Captain, come here! and I now will present you, so look after your P's and Q's! ..."

Act III - Michu's Shop, Les Halles
*No. 20 - Opening Chorus - "Customers we, who want to buy! If you can sell us what we need..."
*No. 21 - Song - Aristide - "Strange how the unexpected should always come to pass..."
*No. 22 - Song - Bagnolet - "A woman and a soldier are the same, if you take the trouble to compare..."
*No. 23 - Song - Blanche-Marie - "Little Sister, I am getting discontented, yes, it's true..."
*No. 24 - Chorus and Song - Mme. Michu - "Good luck to both the little brides; health, wealth and happiness besides..."
*No. 25 - Duet - Blanche-Marie & Gaston - "Monsieur Gaston, believe me pray, I'm full of joyful expectation..."
*No. 26 - Sextet - Marie-Blanche, Blanche-Marie, Mme. Michu, Gaston, Aristide & Michu - "Now please sit down! ..."
*No. 27 - Finale Act III - "Two little maids will soon be united to husbands they love and adore..."


*Mendès, Catulle. "L'art au théâtre" 1900 E. Fasquelle, Paris, pp. 434-36. [http://books.google.com/books?id=CtULAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA435&lpg=PA435&dq=%22les+p+tites+michu%22+ifs&source=web&ots=RwpY_KF52O&sig=IRlG0wXpyDyu9mtiOoLz--fyS58#PPA434,M1 Available online here]
*Vol. 6 No. 35, "The Play Pictorial An Illustrated Monthly", London, June 1905, pp. 29-56. Includes illustrations of the London production, the cast and sets. Two musical numbers are printed. [http://www.antiquesireland.com/booklists/theatre.shtml Description online here.]

External links

* [http://www.halhkmusic.com/michus.html Song list with links to Midi files and London cast list]
* [http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=6322 Information about the Broadway run]
* [http://www.peopleplayuk.org/collections/object.php?search_result=true&object_id=877&back=%2Fcollections%2Fdefault.php%3Fsearch_name%3Dperformance_category_search%26amp%3Brun_search%3Dtrue%26amp%3Bcperformance_type%3D10%26amp%3Bctab%3D1 Photo of Genee in "The Little Michus"]
* [http://history.enotes.com/peoples-chronology/year-1905/music Information about "The Little Michus" and other shows opening in London in 1905]

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