Madame Pompadour (operetta)

Madame Pompadour is an operetta in three acts, composed by Leo Fall with a libretto by Rudolph Schanzer and Ernst Welisch. Conducted by the composer, it opened at the Berliner Theater [de] in Berlin on 9 September 1922 and then at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 2 March 1923.

Madame Pompadour
Operetta by Leo Fall
Cover of the vocal score
9 September 1922 (1922-09-09)
Berliner Theater, Berlin

Translated into English, Madame Pompadour premiered at Daly's Theatre, London, on 20 December 1923. It was also translated into Italian and performed at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 15 January 1924. It was later given in French in an adaptation by Albert Willemetz, Max Eddy and Jean Marietti, in Paris at the Théâtre Marigny on 16 May 1930. With the extraordinary success of the operetta in Berlin, Vienna, London and elsewhere, Fall regained the international fame that he had enjoyed prior to World War I. He died of cancer two years later at the age of only 52.[1]


Roles, voice types, premiere cast
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 9 September 1922
Conductor: Leo Fall
Madame de Pompadour soprano Fritzi Massary
Louis XV baritone Ernst Rollé
René, comte d'Estrades tenor Erik Wirl
Josef Calicot tenor Ralph Arthur Roberts
Belotte soprano Mimi Vesely
Maurepas, Minister of Police baritone
Poulard, his assistant tenor
Collin, Pompadour's chamberlain tenor
Boucher, court painter bass
Tourelle, porcelain manufacturer bass
Austrian Ambassador tenor
Madeleine, Comtesse D'estrades contralto
Lieut. Corneille, in command of the guard
Prunier, landlord of the "Nine Muses"



Married Count René is in Paris for Carnival, at an inn with his friend, the poet Josef. When René picks up an attractive girl, she is revealed to be Madame Pompadour, and he is placed under arrest. She gains him a reprieve, but she demands that he serve as her personal bodyguard and that Josef write a birthday play. She tells René to keep his distance – until midnight. Meanwhile, René's wife arrives, in search of her missing husband, and Louis XV wants to catch his mistress together with her lover. But clever Madame Pompadour is able to avoid detection, as she presents René's wife as her sister.

English adaptations


The first English adaptation, by Frederick Lonsdale and Harry Graham (lyrics), which opened at Daly's Theatre in London in 1923, ran for a very successful 469 performances. It starred Bertram Wallis as Louis XV, Derek Oldham as René, Huntley Wright as Joseph Calicott and Evelyn Laye in the title role.[1]

A second English adaptation, in two acts, with a libretto adapted by Clare Kummer and lyrics by Rudolph Schanzer and Ernst Welisch, was produced on Broadway in 1924–25, starring Wilda Bennett. This was the opening production of the new Martin Beck Theatre.[2] Following the success of the London production, film and other versions were made.[1]

Musical numbers (English adaptation)


Act 1

  • Introduction and ensemble (Calicot and Chorus)
  • Quintet (René and Girls) – "Carnival Time" ("Laridi, laridon! At carnivals the world must have a gay time")
  • Duet (Pompadour & Mariette) – "Love me Now" ("I feel so excited, I won't deny")
  • Duet (Pompadour and René) – "By the Light of the Moon" ("Grant favour, In that arbour your heart will grow braver")
  • Duet (Calicot and Mariette) – "If I were King" ("Though I'd feel a trifle strange")
  • Finale act 1

Act 2

  • Introduction and ensemble
  • Duet (Pompadour and René) – "Love's Sentry" ("Sentry 'shun, you're on parade now")
  • Sextet (Pompadour, Mariette, Madeleine and Three Maids) – "Tell me what your eyes were made for"
  • Serenade (René and Chorus of Soldiers) – "Madame Pompadour"
  • Duet (Pompadour and Calicot) – "Joseph!" ("Mine's a mad infatuation")
  • Reminiscence ... "Madame Pompadour"
  • Finale act 2

Act 3

  • Introduction
  • Duet (Calicot and Mariette) – "Two Little Birds" ("Though you're a girl I've gone simply mad about")
  • Finale act 3




  1. ^ a b c Traubner, Richard. Operetta: A Theatrical History. Psychology Press, 2003, pp. 269–280, ISBN 0-415-96641-8
  2. ^ Bayles-Yeager, Danni. "Martin Beck (Al Hirschfeld Theatre)", Bayles-Yeager Online Archives of the Performing Arts, accessed July 13, 2017
  3. ^ "Madame Pompadour, CPO, 2014". Archived from the original on 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2014-04-23.