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LA PÉRICHOLE Cover to Metropolitan Opera version 1956 An opéra-bouffe in 2 acts. Music by Jacques Offenbach. Book and Lyrics by Ludovic Halévy and Henri Meilhac based on Le Carosse du SaintSacrament by Prosper Mérimée. Théâtre des Variétés, Paris 6 October, 1868. Princes Theatre, London - 27 June 1870 Pikes Opera House, New York - 28 April, 1879 SYNOPSIS The setting is Lima, the capital of Peru in the 1750s when Peru was a Spanish dominion. To suit the whim of the Viceroy - a great man for the ladies - an attractive street-singer (La Périchole) is brought to court and made a Countess by the simple expedient of marrying her to a newly-titled 'Count' who is really her streetsinger partner and lover. Good comedy character parts, engaging romantic intrigues, colourful costumes and delightful music - including the celebrated "Letter Song". STORY: ACT 1 At the 'Trois Cousines' bar, in the city of Lima, the three ladies who give their name to the establishment are pouring out the wine as the people celebrate the birthday of the Viceroy with all the vigour of folk who have been paid to do so. The three cousins are lively ladies but they do not make a habit of giving their merchandise away. The responsibility for all this purchased gaiety lies with Don Pedro de Hinoyosa, the governor of the city. Don Pedro is, for his own sake, intent that the Viceroy should see that his capital is a happy and satisfied place and, to make sure that all goes according to plan, he is lurking in the vicinity of the 'Trois Cousines' disguised as a vegetable seller. The bread-seller who passes by soon after is, equally, no real merchant but the Comte de Panatellas, the Viceroy's first gentleman of the bedchamber. He, too, is out and about en paysan, keeping an eye on his master, Don Andrès, who has also taken to the streets, disguised as a doctor, with the intention of finding out what his people truly think of his administration and, also, of enjoying the company of the girls of the town. The Viceroy finds little frankness at the 'Trois Cousines', for the entire place has been peopled with the relatives of Don Pedro bribed and primed to give flattering responses and the hostesses are so taken with giggling that they can barely keep up the charade. Finally, Don Andrès lights upon a passing Red Indian and, deciding that here he will find his vox populi, he takes him off for an in-depth interview. The next arrivals in the square outside the 'Trois Cousines' are a pair of strolling singers, Piquillo and La Périchole. They entertain with their song of 'L'Espagnol et la Jeune Indienne' but, as Piquillo insists on going round with the hat, they take no money. When Périchole takes a turn at the collection things look better, but the jealous Piquillo insults every man who goes to give his beloved money and, once again, the singers end up with nothing. Nothing will not pay for food and the two are very hungry. Only their love for each other keeps them going. They have nothing else, not even the four piastres needed to pay for the long-awaited marriage licence. Périchole is exhausted and can go no further, so Piquillo leaves her to sleep off her hunger while he continues to try to win a few coins by his singing. Don Andrès has spent half an hour questioning his Indian only to discover, in the end, that the native is none other than Panatellas in disguise. Piqued to the core at being unable to find anyone who will give him an honest answer, he is delighted to hear a voice complaining of a wretched day and a dreadful country. It is Périchole, who has discovered that it is not easy to get to sleep when one's stomach is empty. Andrès is even