L’Île de Tulipatan, Jacques Offenbach

Title L’Île de Tulipatan
English Title The Isle of Tulipatan
Composer Jacques Offenbach
Librettists Henri Chivot and Alfred Duru
Language French, Dutch translation available
Genre Opéra-bouffe, comic opera (one act)
First performance 30 September, 1868, Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, Paris
Time of action 473 years before the invention of the spittoon
Place of action The action takes place in the Isle of Tulipatan, at a distance of 25,000 kilometers from Nanterre
Main parts
  • King Cacatois XXIII, comic baritone (or tenor)
  • Romboïdal, comic tenor
  • Prince Alexius, soprano
  • Théodorine, contralto (or mezzo-soprano)
  • Princess Hermosa, tenor
Prominence of chorus Large
Orchestra 2 flutes, 1 oboe, 2 clarinets, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, timpani/percussion, strings
Special demands There are two travesty-roles; a man figuring as a girl and a woman as a boy
Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Not difficult
Length One act, about 1 hour

Jacques Offenbach obviously enjoyed setting the farcical story to music. He makes the singers imitate various musical instruments (trombone, cello, drum, mandolin) and, as in so many of his works, he makes fun of his colleagues (for example Fromental Halévy, whose opera La Juive was very popular at the time). There is a highly boisterous aria, a song with quack-quacking for accompaniment, a grand ensemble about nothing, a terrific duet for father and 'daughter' (two tenors) and a crazy barcarole.


A king reigns in a distant island. He has a son – at least, he thinks he has. The prince is in love with the daughter of the chamberlain. The king does not object, but then there are difficulties. When the royal child was born, the chamberlain did not tell the king that it was the next in a long series of daughters, so it was brought up as a boy, and now the chamberlain, though desperate, dares not reveal the truth. On the other hand we learn that the chamberlain’s wife has passed off her little boy as a girl, to protect him from having to do military service, and that she never told her husband. Confusion follows. As may be imagined, eventually a happy ending is achieved.

Costumes Costumes to be freely chosen
Link Wikipedia | Spittoon

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Tags: Offenbach | Fransen