Touring production

La Princesse jaune & Djamileh

Camille Saint-Saëns & Georges Bizet
‘Japan was in fashion; people spoke only of Japan; it was a craze’, wrote Saint-Saëns, recounting the genesis of La Princesse jaune forty years after its publication. Premiered on 12 June 1872, the score is a succession of six numbers interspersed with spoken dialogue. The protagonists come together in the two final duets, in passages of which Saint-Saëns was to write that they were ‘one of the best things I have ever done in the theatre’. He acknowledged, however, that ‘this innocent little work was greeted with the most ferocious hostility’. Just a few weeks earlier, Bizet’s Djamileh, based on Alfred de Musset’s Namouna (1832), had received its premiere in the same house. A fervent orientalist and breathtaking colourist, Bizet displays in this miniature all his compositional skill and his mastery of orchestration. As Félix Clément noted at the time, moreover, speaking of the overture, ‘the concordance of sounds is so singular that the music heard in the time of Ramses and Sesostris would not seem more extraordinary to modern ears’. The title role is given several passages that highlight the heady sounds of the mezzo-soprano tessitura, in what might be seen as a preliminary study for the role of Carmen. As in La Princesse jaune, the spoken dialogue (which has never been replaced by sung recitatives) can be a stumbling block for non-French-speaking artists.
Tours Tourcoing


La Princesse jaune: opéra-comique in one act on a libretto by Louis Gallet, premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 12 June 1872
Djamileh: opéra-comique in one act on a libretto by Louis Gallet freely inspired by Alfred de Musset’s Namouna, premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 22 May 1872


Fri 1 October 2021
Opéra de Tours, Tours
Sun 3 October 2021
Opéra de Tours, Tours
Tue 5 October 2021
Opéra de Tours, Tours
Thu 19 May 2022
Théâtre municipal Raymond Devos, Tourcoing
Sat 21 May 2022
Théâtre municipal Raymond Devos, Tourcoing
Sun 22 May 2022
Théâtre municipal Raymond Devos, Tourcoing


François-Xavier Roth conductor
Géraldine Martineau de la Comédie-Française stage director
assisted byElizabeth Calleo
Salma Bordes set design
Sonia Duchesne choreography
Olivier Oudiou lighting
Léa Perron costume

La Princesse jaune
Léna Jenny Daviet
Kornélis Sahy Ratia

Djamileh Aude Extrémo
Haroun Sahy Ratia
Splendiano Philippe-Nicolas Martin
Le Marchand d’esclaves Maxime Le Gall
Sonia Duchesne dancer
Fully staged production
Associate Production Bru Zane France
Co-production Opéra de Tours / Angers Nantes Opéra / Opéra de Toulon / Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing
Sets and costumes made by the workshops of the Opéra de Tours
La Princesse jaune : Éditions musicales du Palazzetto Bru Zane
Djamileh : Éditions Hugh MacDonald © Fishergate Music 2020
Bru Zane Mediabase
Digital resources for French Romantic music
La Princesse jaune