Le diable à quatre (opera)

Le diable à quatre (The Devil to Pay) is an opéra comique in three acts by Christoph Willibald Gluck. The French-language libretto is by Michel-Jean Sedaine and Pierre Baurans, after a translation by Claude-Pierre Patu of the 1731 ballad opera by Charles Coffey entitled The Devil to Pay, or The Wives Metamorphos’d.[1] It was first performed at Laxenburg on May 28, 1759. The work was a popular success. Joseph Haydn used a melody from it, "Je n’aimais pas le tabac beaucoup (I didn’t like tobacco much)" in the first movement of his symphony Le soir.[2][3]

Klaus Hortschansky has noted that Le diable à quatre is one of Gluck's few stageworks where the composer neither used musical material from prior works nor recycled material from it into future works.[4] Bruce Brown has discussed Gluck's authorship of the music in detail,[5] and has also edited the work for the Gluck Sämtliche Werke.[6]

(The same libretto was set to music arranged by Andre Danican Philidor and Jean-Louis Laruette and first staged with the above title on 19 August 1756 in Paris.)


Role Voice type Premiere Cast,
The Marquise soprano
The Marquis tenor
Margot soprano
Jacques, a cobbler, Margot's husband baritone
An astrologer tenor



The story concerns an ill-natured Marquise. An astrologer, to whom she had refused shelter at her chateau, transforms her into the wife of a surly cobbler named Jacques and transforms the cobbler's sweet-natured wife into the Marquise. After the Marquise learns her lesson, the astrologer reverses the spell.[7]


  1. ^ Brown, Bruce Alan (1992), 'Diable à quatre, Le' in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
  2. ^ Clark, Caryl, Review of New Directions for Haydn Research: Internationaler Joseph Haydn Kongress, Wien, 1982 (edited by Eva Badura-Skoda) (Spring 1988). The Journal of Musicology, 6 (2): pp. 245-257.
  3. ^ Churgin, Bathia, "Music Reviews: Six Symphonies a più strumenti, opus 4 (Pierre van Maldere; edited by Craig Lister) and Sinfonien 1761 bis 1763 (Joseph Haydn; edited by Jürgen Braun and Sonja Gerlach)" (June 1993). Notes (2nd Ser.), 49 (4): pp. 1630-1632.
  4. ^ Selden, Margery Stomne, Review of Parodie und Entlehnung im Schaffen Christoph Willibald Glucks by Klaus Hortschansky (Spring 1976). Journal of the American Musicological Society, 29 (1): p. 148-151.
  5. ^ Smith, Marian, Review of Gluck and the French Theatre in Vienna by Bruce Alan Brown ( Autumn 1993). Dance Research Journal, 25 (2): pp. 34-36.
  6. ^ Charlton, David, Review of Gluck and the French Theatre in Vienna by Bruce Alan Brown (March 1995). Cambridge Opera Journal, 7 (1): p. 73-79.
  7. ^ Synopsis on Naxos Records