La Belle Hélène



Libretto by Henri MEILHAC and Ludovic HALÉVY

New production

  • Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège
  • Opéra de Lausanne
  • Opéra Comique

Last performance at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège :  December 2012 


The story

In Sparta, Venus has promised the handsome shepherd Pâris that he will marry the world’s most beautiful woman. This unique and sublime beauty is incarnated by Hélène of Troy, the wife of King Ménélas. Aware that her virtue is wavering, Hélène attempts to resist the advances of Pâris, who takes advantage of the beauty’s sleep to “enter her dreams”… and she succumbs! Ménélas is furious…

The trojan war will be inevitable…

La Belle Hélène, which will joyfully grace our stage for the end of the year, is still today the leading French opera-bouffe. It was the fruit of a collaboration with the librettists Meilhac and Halévy, the latter of whom had already left his mark on the satirical Orphée aux Enfers in 1858.

More than simple entertainment, La Belle Hélène is an important work in the history of the genre. A veritable opera-bouffe, it is constructed like an opera, but with a light, joyful as well as cheerful tone, and is more than just a comedy combined with illustrative verses.  Furthermore, for the first time with the adventures of Hélène, Pâris and Ménélas, on the stage of the Théâtre des Variétés it was the inauguration of a performance that triumphed for several months without leaving the bill, whereas beforehand every two weeks a new title emerged.

Between delicious iconoclastic parody of the Antiquity and acerbic criticism of perfunctory Second Empire society’s morals, La Belle Hélène is an absolute masterpiece in which music and prosody merge to form a paradoxical, hilarious and original unity… A must-see!

Introduction to performances: curtain-raisers

All the opera performances are preceded by a practical introduction to the work that is open to all (as a curtain raiser). Please note that there will be no curtain raising on DEC 31.