Not in Front of the Waiter - or Under the Aspidistra

  • Jacques Offenbach
Music by Jacques Offenbach. Orchestration by Vilem Tausky. Libretto and adaptation by Colin Graham. Lyrics by Viola Tunnard
2(I=picc).1.2.1 - 2210 - perc(1) - 2 vln I.1 vln II.1 vla.1 vlc.1 db
First Performance
1963, Sadler's Wells, London, UK
Published by Warner/Chappell.  Administered for hire and stage rights worldwide (excluding North America) by Faber Music Ltd
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The Story
(A private room in a Paris restaurant, 1890)
A waiter is preparing to receive his guests in the private room of a Paris restaurant. Solange and Prosper
enter and take a table next to an enormous aspidistra. From their (sung) conversation we gather they are
both married, not to one another. A few minutes later, Hortense and Aristide come in and sit at an adjoining table. They are bent on a similar amorous escapade and are indeed the wife and husband of the first couple. It is not long before all is discovered, the ladies rather exaggerating their astonishment and becoming bitterly distressed. During this time the waiter has remained suitable silent, but when the remonstrations are at their peak he intervenes to say he has some information to impart of a kind that should put an end to the quarrelling. He then proceeds to reveal that from a strawberry mark on both ladies’ shoulders, he has recognised them as the daughters he shamelessly abandoned in their childhood. He pleads their forgiveness and recounts the sad story of how he was tempted from the straight and narrow path of dutiful paternity. At first, the four of them listen to this revelation with incredulity, but the ladies soon begin to rejoice in having found not only a father, but each of them a sister and also a brother-in-law. Reconciliation abounds. All join in a song of praise of family trees to which the aspidistra raises its head in acknowledgement. 
Principal Characters 
Principal Musical Numbers 
Scene One (Block)
Scene Two (Solange, Prosper, Block)
Scene Three (Hortense, Aristide, Block)
Scene Four (Solange, Prosper)
Scene Five (Ensemble)  
Scene Six (Solange, Ensemble)
Scene Seven (Block, Ensemble)
Finale (Ensemble)


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