Madame Pompadour (operetta)

Madame Pompadour is an operetta in three acts, composed by Leo Fall with a libretto by Rudolf Schanzer and Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Welisch. Conducted by the composer, it opened at the Berliner Theater in Berlin on 9 September 1922 and then at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on 2 March 1923.

Translated into English, Madame Pompadour premiered at Daly's Theatre, London, on 20 December 1923. It was also translated into Italian and performed at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 15 January 1924. It was later given in French in an adaptation by Albert Willemetz, Max Eddy and Jean Marietti, in Paris at the Théâtre Marigny on 16 May 1930. With the extraordinary success of the operetta in Berlin, Vienna, London and elsewhere, Fall regained the international fame that he had enjoyed prior to World War I. He died of cancer two years later at the age of only 52.[1]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 9 September 1922
(Conductor: Leo Fall)
Madame de Pompadour soprano Fritzi Massary
Louis XV baritone Ernst Rollé
René, сomte d'Estrades tenor Erik Wirl
Josef Calicot tenor Ralph Arthur Roberts
Belotte soprano Mimi Vesely
Maurepas, Minister of Police baritone
Poulard, his assistant tenor
Collin, Pompadour's chamberlain tenor
Boucher, court painter bass
Tourelle, porcelain manufacturer bass
Austrian Ambassador tenor
Madeleine, Comtesse D'estrades contralto
Lieut. Corneille, in command of the guard
Prunier, landlord of the "Nine Muses"


Married Count René is in Paris for Carnival, at an inn with his friend, the poet Josef. When René picks up an attractive girl, she is revealed to be Madame Pompadour, and he is placed under arrest. She gains him a reprieve, but she demands that he serve as her personal bodyguard and that Josef write a birthday play. She tells René to keep his distance – until midnight. Meanwhile, René’s wife arrives, in search of her missing husband, and Louis XV wants to catch his mistress together with her lover. But clever Madame Pompadour is able to avoid detection, as she presents René’s wife as her sister.

English adaptations

The first English adaptation, by Frederick Lonsdale and Harry Graham (lyrics), which opened at Daly's Theatre in London in 1923, ran for a very successful 469 performances. It starred Bertram Wallis as Louis XV, Derek Oldham as René, Huntley Wright as Joseph Calicott and Evelyn Laye in the title role.[1]

A second English adaptation, in two acts, with an adaptation by Clare Kummer and lyrics by Schanzer and Welisch, was produced on Broadway in 1924–25, starring Wilda Bennett. Following the success of the London production, film and other versions were made.[1]

Musical numbers (English adaptation)

Act 1

Act 2

Act 3



  1. 1 2 3 Traubner, Richard. Operetta: a theatrical history. Psychology Press, 2003, pp. 269–80, ISBN 0-415-96641-8
  2. Madame Pompadour, CPO, 2014
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