15 solo singers plus chorus

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For each soloist's compass, please see link at bottom of page.


Dramatic Soprano:                   Adele              

Mezzo-soprano:                        Michelle

Contralto:                         Staël 

Countertenor (/Contralto)        IChauvin

Baritone:                                   Chauvin

Buffo Bass:                               Dibroc


Tenor:              Napoleon (I and II) = Talma (Antony) (III) 

Lyric Tenor:    Lucien (I) = Souvan (II and III) 

Lyric Tenor:    Fouché (I) = Joseph (II) = Caesar (III).  Preferably less lyric in singing quality than the voice for Lucien. 

Baritone:         Fain (I) = Puiné (II) = Lafon (III)

Bass:               Caulincourt (I) = Old Veteran (II) = Brutus (III)

Bass:               Bertrand (I) = Picot (II) = First Roman (III)

Loud Bass:      Davout (I) = Terrorist Leader (II) = Dolabella (III).  Must be a triple role, not sung by different people.



Soprano:  Mme Fopin (II) - probably a member of the Chorus.

                 Jeanette (II) - a child, whose part could be sung offstage

                 Henri (II) - a child, whose part could be sung offstage.



Please see below.





 Adele (sings offstage in Act I), IChauvin, Napoleon, Chauvin, Dibroc.


Lucien, Fouché, Baron Fain, Caulincourt, General Bertrand, Davout,

CHORUSES of Ministers, Courtiers and Generals.

Non-singing: Servants, two condemned soldiers, guards.




Adele, IChauvin, Napoleon, Chauvin, Dibroc.


Fopin, Jeanette, Henri, Michelle, Souvan, Old Veteran, Picot, Joseph, Puiné, Terrorist Leader

CHORUSES of shoppers, veterans, and White Terrorists

Non-singing: Veterans, guards, shoppers,




 Adele, IChauvin, Talma (same singer as Napoleon), Chauvin, Dibroc.


 Michelle, Mme de Staël, Brutus, Caesar, Dolabella, Lafon, First Roman. 

CHORUSES of theater actors, audience and veterans.

Non-singing: English guards.

Solo female dancer may also be included, ad libitum.




Mme Adele Chauvin, four years younger than Chauvin, married him in 1804, at 28 years; in Act I, 35 years of age; a baker whose shop was purchased with Nicolas' money, obtained through substitute conscription. (Adele represents the realm of the humanistic, natural world, as opposed to the preternatural or supernatural.) Offstage during Act I, on stage most of Acts II and III.

Countertenor (/Contralto)

IChauvin; Chauvin's ideological manifestation; Chauvin's fantasy self, whose name becomes the eponym for super patriotism and nationalism; his thoughts. He remains relatively ageless, but could show some slight, increasing maturity, as the ideology grows and takes on a life of its own. (His character represents the supernatural world of the ideological existence of absolute truth.) His part should be sung by a countertenor if of the strident and definitely not fluty vocal quality; otherwise should be sung by a contralto.  Top E is quite often required.


Napoleon Bonaparte (b. Aug. 15, 1769; general at 24, 1793; d. May 5, 1821,at 51), presently, 46. In Act III, transfers to become Talma: (1763-1826), the most famous classical actor of the time, playing Antony.  Talma had early in his career appeared in many of Voltaire's plays, he was one of the first French actors to appear in classical Roman toga.  He was one of the major actors who encouraged Realism; by 1799 his Comédie-Française won the patronage of Napoleon. 


Nicolas Chauvin (the historical person who has become mythical), a soldier (b. July 4, 1776; the author's chosen date); at 17 a substitute conscript for a wealthy person in 1793, now, in Act I, 38 years of age, an oft-wounded veteran of 22 years in service; Acts II and III, 39 years of age. [His character copes with the three influences of IChauvin (his transcendental self), the Adele of his natural, humanistic, everyday world, and Dibroc, a preternatural force.] In Act III, Chauvin shows a characteristic, though reversed, pose of Napoleon: his left hand is now tucked inside his coat (across his chest) so that it has hold of the flag for retrieval at will - a trick which he has developed.

Buffo Bass

Antonin Dibroc, one of three soldier-prisoners. (He represents preternatural tendencies.)




Henri and Jeanette  Henri, 10, son of Nicolas and Adele, conceived during one of Chauvin's many convalescences, probably around the time when Chauvin was called to stand guard in the cathedral at Napoleon's coronation in 1805. Jeanette, 8, daughter of Nicolas and Adele. Either or both parts could be sung by children, or acted by children and sung offstage by appropriate voices, the child-actors "singing" with their backs to the audience during the longer arias.  Each appears in Act II.


Michelle Couvé, Adele's companion, "Aunt" to Adele's children.  In Act II and III.


Mme Germaine de Staël. The part calls for clear and rapid diction, rather than putting tonal beauty to the fore.  Although she is ailing, her mind is quick and active, and it is these qualities which the voice must demonstrate.  Precise pitch, for her, is only important when ensemble-singing.  An intellectual rather than emotional manner, where her words can easily be understood as vicious.  In Act III only. 

NOTE: Her dates are April 22, 1766-July 14, 1817; she lived 51 years, 3 months.  In ACT III, 50 years old. Germaine's health is failing, but her activities know no respite. She is on drugs, suffering stomach disorders and a weakening heart. She will suffer a stroke in three months (February 21, 1817), lie flat for three months, be moved, and then die July 14, 1817. Unable to sleep at night, and not finding enough to hold her interest, she attempts to amuse herself with a night out at the theater with friends and family to see a revival of Voltaire's play, which in itself is a manifestation of the extremely partisan atmosphere reigning in France at this time. Voltaire (1694-1778) was a friend of Mme. De Staël's mother, Mme Suzanne Necker. She was also an admirer of Talma. Napoleon considered her an enemy of his, censored her works, and exiled her from France for many years, although she saved him at one point from his enemies toward the end of Napoleon's regime.


Fouché (I) = Joseph (II) = Caesar (III) : Lyric Tenor.  Joseph Fouché, Duke of Otranto, was Minister of Police in Act One.  Joseph in Act Two is one of Napoleon's brothers.


Baron Fain (I) [Napoleon's secretary] = Guillaume Puiné (II) [a citizen Bonapartist who was actually killed by terrorists in the manner described in the second act] = Pierre Lafon (III) [tragedian, previously a rival of Talma's, playing the conspirator, Cassius.]


Davout (I) = Terrorist Leader (II) = Dolabella (III) : Should all be played by the same singer (even if the other double-castings are not followed). A loud, bombastic style, with more attention to portamento and large dynamics rather than pure pitch.  Louis Davout is Minister of War in Act 1. 




Mme. Fopin, a shopper in Act II (could easily be a Chorus-member)

Terrorist (II) one of the quintet, here able to sound raucous (elsewhere in the opera, could be a Chorus-member).


Terrorist (II) one of the quintet, here able to sound raucous (elsewhere in the opera, could be a Chorus-member).


Lucien (I) = Souvan (II) : Lyric tenor. Lucien was one of Napoleon's brothers. Souvan is one of the two veterans who accompany Dibroc and Chauvin to Rochefort.  As such, he is in the audience for the play in (III), but only sings as a member of Chauvin's followers during that act.

Terrorist (II) one of the quintet, here able to sound raucous (elsewhere in the opera, could be a Chorus-member).


Terrorist (II) one of the quintet, here able to sound raucous (elsewhere in the opera, could be a Chorus-member).

Bass Baritone

Caulincourt (I) [long-time friend of Napoleon]  = Old Veteran (II) = Brutus (III)


General Bertrand (I) = Picot (II) [and (III) or = First Roman (III)].  Picot is one of the two companions with whom Chauvin and Dibroc journey to Rochefort.  If Picot is in the play's audience and like Souvan sings only as a member of Chauvin's followers, then the First Roman one-line part could be sung by a member of the actor's chorus.


In Act Three, there is an extended aria (sung by IChauvin) - a fast, veiled waltz - which could be accompanied by a female dancer, dressed in the French tricolor. The dancer could move around the whole stage or be back-projected onto the back-wall scenery; or just be omitted.




CHORUS OF MINISTERS, including Joseph Fouché, Duke of Otranto, Minister of Police; and Louis Davout,   Minister of War. The ministers are all taller than Napoleon; in his presence, they stoop down, minimizing their height. 

CHORUS OF COURTIERS, including Caulaincourt, Napoleon's long-time companion; Colonel Planat, Napoleon's aide-de-camp; Marchand, Napoleon's valet; aides and secretaries. Ladies of the court stand in the background. The taller courtiers minimize their height in the presence of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, emphasizing a toadying posture.

CHORUS OF GENERALS, including Bertrand, and other officers.  The officers make no attempt to "minimize" themselves in the presence of the general, not so much toadying as showing normal respect.





In Act III, the CHORUSES OF THEATRE PATRONS are constituted as follows: 

Talma's (Antony/Talma's) claque, favored by Chauvin 

Lafon's (Cassius/Lafon's) claque, favored by Mme De Staël 

Allied soldiers, from England 

Other theatre patrons in the audience2 section


In the early part of Act III, the ladies of the chorus sing expressively; but after the subsuming of Chauvin, they assume the role of the Ancient Greek Chorus, commenting on the actions, without any vocal passion.


VOCAL COMPASSES FOR SOLO SINGERS IN CHAUVIN (summary of extreme and median pitches)


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