The King Has Said It


In three acts by LEON DELIBES.


It is impossible to imagine music more charming or more full of grace

and piquancy, than that which we find in this delightful opera. Every

part abounds in exquisite harmonies, which no words can give any idea

of. On hearing them one is compelled to the conclusion, that all the

races have stood godmother to this lovely child of their muse.

The libretto though on the whole somewhat insipid, is flavored with

naive and goodnatured coquetry, which lends a certain charm to it.

The Marquis de Moncontour has long wished to be presented to the King

Louis XIV., and as he has been fortunate enough to catch the escaped

paroquet of Mme. de Maintenon, he is at last to have his wish

accomplished. By way of preparation for his audience he tries to learn

the latest mode of bowing, his own being somewhat antiquated and the

Marquise and her four lovely daughters and even Javotte, the nice

little ladies'-maid, assist him. After many failures the old gentleman

succeeds in making his bow to his own satisfaction, and he is put into

a litter, and born off, followed by his people's benedictions. When

they are gone, Benoit, a young peasant comes to see Javotte, who is his

sweetheart. He wishes to enter the Marquis' service. Javotte

thinks him too awkward, but she promises to intercede in his favor with

Miton, a dancing-master, who enters just as Benoit disappears. He has

instructed the graceful Javotte in all the arts and graces of the noble

world, and when he rehearses the steps and all the nice little tricks

of his art with her, he is so delighted with his pupil, that he

pronounces her manners worthy of a Princess; but when Javotte tells him

that she loves a peasant, he is filled with disgust and orders her

away. His real pupils, the four lovely daughters of the Marquis now

enter and while the lesson goes on, Miton hands a billet-doux from some

lover to each of them. The two elder, Agatha and Chimene, are just in

the act of reading theirs, when they hear a serenade outside, and

shortly afterwards the two lovers are standing in the room, having

taken their way through the window. The Marquis Flarembel and his

friend, the Marquis de la Bluette are just making a most ardent

declaration of love, when Mme. la Marquise enters to present to her

elder daughters the two bridegrooms she has chosen for them. The young

men hide behind the ample dresses of the young ladies, and all begin to

sing with great zeal, Miton beating the measure, so that some time

elapses, before the Marquise is able to state her errand. Of course

her words excite great terror, the girls flying to the other side of

the room with their lovers and receiving the two elderly suitors, Baron

de Merlussac and Gautru, a rich old financier, with great coolness and

a refusal of their costly gifts. When the suitors are gone, the

two young strangers are detected and the angry mother decides at once

to send her daughters to a convent, from which they shall only issue on

their wedding-day.

When they have departed in a most crest-fallen condition, the old

Marquis returns from his audience with the King and relates its

astounding results. His Majesty had been so peremptory in his

questioning about the Marquis' son and heir, that the Marquis, losing

his presence of mind, promised to present his son at Court on the

King's demand. The only question now is where to find a son to adopt,

as the Marquis has only four daughters. Miton, the ever-useful, at

once presents Benoit to the parents, engaging himself to drill the

peasant into a nice cavalier in ten lessons. Benoit takes readily to

his new position; he is fitted out at once and when the merchants come,

offering their best in cloth and finery, he treats them with an

insolence, worthy of the proudest Seigneur. He even turns from his

sweet-heart Javotte.

In the second act Benoit, dressed like the finest cavalier, gives a

masked ball in his father's gardens. Half Versailles is invited, but

having taken the Court Almanac to his aid, he has made the mistake of

inviting many people who have long been dead. Those who do appear,

seem to him to be very insipid, and wanting some friends with whom he

can enjoy himself, the useful Miton presents the Marquis de la Bluette

and de Flarembel, who are delighted to make the acquaintance of

their sweethearts' brother.

Benoit hears from them, that he has four charming sisters, who have

been sent to a convent and he at once promises to assist his new

friends. Meanwhile Javotte appears in the mask of an oriental Queen

and Benoit makes love to her, but he is very much stupified when she

takes off her mask, and he recognizes Javotte. She laughingly turns

away from him, when the good-for-nothing youth's new parents appear, to

reproach him with his levity. But Benoit, nothing daunted rushes away,

telling the Marquis that he intends to visit his sisters in the

convent. Miton tries in vain to recall him. Then the two old suitors

of Agathe and Chimene appear, to complain that their deceased wife and

grand-mother were invited, and while the Marquis explains his son's

mistake, the four daughters rush in, having been liberated by their

lovers and their unknown brother, whom they greet with a fondness very

shocking to the old Marchioness. The elderly suitors withdraw,

swearing to take vengeance on the inopportune brother.

In the last act Benoit appears in his father's house in a somewhat

dilapidated state. He has spent the night amongst gay companions and

met Gautru and de Merlussac successively, who have both fought him and

believe they have killed him, Benoit having feigned to be dead on the


When the old Marquis enters, he is very much astonished at receiving

two letters of condolence from his daughter's suitors. Miton

appears in mourning, explaining that Mme. de Maintenon's visit being

expected, they must all wear dark colors as she prefers these.

Meanwhile Benoit has had an interview with Javotte, in which he

declares his love to be undiminished, and he at once asks his father to

give him Javotte as his wife, threatening to reveal the Marquis' deceit

to the King, if his request is not granted. In this dilemma help comes

in the persons of the two young Marquises, who present their King's

condolences to old Moncontour. This gentleman hears to his great

relief, that his son is supposed to have fallen in a duel, and so he is

disposed of. Nobody is happier than Javotte, who now claims Benoit for

her own, while the Marquis, who receives a Duke's title from the King

in compensation for his loss, gladly gives his two elder daughters to

their young and noble lovers.

The girls, well aware, that they owe their happiness to their adopted

brother, are glad to provide him with ample means for his marriage with

Javotte, and the affair ends to everybody's satisfaction.