Roi de Lahore, Le (‘The King of Lahore’)
- Rodney Milnes
(‘The King of Lahore’)
Opérain five acts by Jules Massenet to a libretto by Louis Gallet ; Paris, Opéra, 27 April 1877.
Le roi de Lahore is more significant for what it is than for what it achieves. The libretto by Louis Gallet – he also wrote the texts for Massenet’s oratorios Marie-Magdeleine and Eve – re-rehearses in prolix fashion popular operatic preoccupations in 19th-century Paris: an exotic oriental setting, a virgin priestess loved by both tenor and baritone, a thundering bass High Priest, and so on. The one interesting departure from formula is the fact that the eponymous King (tenor) dies at the end of Act 2, spends Act 3 in a Hindu paradise (ballet of Blessed Spirits), and returns to earth for Acts 4 and 5 in the guise of a beggar before expiring once more with his beloved priestess Sitâ (soprano) at the final curtain, much to the chagrin of the usurping villain Scindia (baritone)....