Opera Scotland

Dinorah ou Le Pardon de Ploërmel

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Giacomo Meyerbeer (born Vogelsdorf, 5 September 1791; died Paris, 2 May 1864)


Jules Barbier and Michel Carré





First Performance: Paris (Opéra-Comique), 4 April 1859.

First Performance in UK: London (Covent Garden), 26 July 1859.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 12 March 1870.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



By comparison with most of Meyerbeer's French operas, Dinorah is distinctly lightweight in length, musical style and plot, but then, like L'étoile du nord, it was produced not for the Opéra, but for the much more intimate house. The ballet, grand effects and generalised slaughter of principal characters required at the big house would have been out of place. Dinorah contains one famous coloratura showpiece, our heroine's shadow song, as well as a potentially appealing role for a goat.


Main Characters

Dinorah, a peasant girl (soprano)

Hoël, a goat herd (baritone)

Corentin, a bagpiper (tenor)


Plot summary

The original synopsis was intended as a short opera in one act, using the title The Treasure Seeker. Meyerbeer liked it and requested an expanded three-act scheme, which spreads the meat rather thinly.

Hoël and Dinorah are due to be married when her father's property is destroyed and she is reduced to poverty. Hoël abandons her to seek some treasure rumoured to be in the area. Unaware of this reason for his desertion, Dinorah goes mad and spends the next year wandering around in the company of her pet goat. Hoël has located the treasure and also expanded his knowledge, to the extent that he believes the first person to touch it will die. To this end he befriends Corentin, a bagpiper, and offers him a share. Hearing the bell (attached to Dinorah's goat) they follow the girl in her wanderings. By chance she goes to the valley where the men are planning to recover the treasure at midnight. There is a storm and Dinorah is caught in the resulting flood. Hoël dives in to save her. Having succeeded, though she is half-drowned, Hoël realises that her love is more important to him than the treasure, and it now being the anniversary of the original wedding day, they go off to get married.

The Cast

 a bagpiper
 a peasant girl
First Goatherd
 a goat-herd
Second Goatherd

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