Tag Archives: Émile de Najac

Emmanuel Chabrier: Le Roi malgré lui – Danse slave [Choeur et scène] (Acte III): make music part of your life series

Emmanuel Chabrier: Le Roi malgré lui – Danse slave [Choeur et scène] (Acte III)


The “Danse slave” at the beginning of Act III from the comic opera “Le Roi malgré lui” (King in spite of himself) by French composer Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894).

The libretto of this opera is a real mess, as it was written by in collaboration by two mediocre playwrights Emile de Najac and Paul Burani, partially revised by the poet Jean Richepin and later by Chabrier himself after Richepin gave up the work, disgusted. Chabrier called the libretto a “a bouillabaisse of Najac and Burani, cooked by Richepin, into which I throw the spices.” A synopsis of this convoluted opera can be found here:

Nonetheless, the music of “Le roi malgré lui” is truly wonderful. Maurice Ravel wrote that when the opening bars of the Prelude were first played, harmony in French music completely changed course. In this series of videos, I will present selections from the opera. The famous Fête polonaise from the beginning of Act II was already posted on this channel and can be found here:

You can follow along with a vocal score here:

Minka: Barbara Hendricks
Alexina: Isabel Garcisanz
Henri: Gino Quilico
Comte de Nangis: Peter Jeffes
Conductor: Charles Dutoit
Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Chœurs de Radio France