La belle Hélène

Opera

Writers: Jacques Offenbach Ludovic Halevy Henri Meilhac

Overview

Show Information

Category
Opera
Number of Acts
3
First Produced
1864
Genres
Comedy, Parody, Historical/Biographical
Settings
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
Sparta, before the Trojan War, Ancient Times
Cast Size
large
Orchestra Size
Large
Dancing
Some Dance
Licensor
None/royalty-free
Ideal for
Professional Opera
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult, early teen, late teen, elderly characters

Synopsis

Offenbach’s comic retelling of how the Trojan war began treats the legend with more than a pinch of salt. The ridiculous plot follows Paris’s wooing of the beautiful Helene. She has been promised to him by the goddess Venus, despite being married to King Menelaus. Disguised as a shepherd, Paris steals her heart with his good looks and intelligence, by winning a contest of wits. Disguised as a slave he gains access to her bedroom and steals a kiss while she believes herself to be dreaming. Then finally, disguised as the High Priest of Venus, he steals Helene herself, with her husband cheering them on. He takes her off to Troy and thus begins the Trojan war.

The often anachronistic humor and down-to-earth characters really bring this story alive, and Offenbach’s frothy score keeps audiences bouncing along right to the very end.

Lead Characters