The place is the Opera Comique, in Paris, in 1875, at the first performance of Bizet's new opera, Carmen. All the "best people" are there but, as the cynical, worldly-wise usher, Odile, points out, they have not come to hear the music. Rather it is "amour" which they have on their minds: Paul Vigneron (who is having an affair with Madame de la Corniche) hopes to pair his sex-obsessed son Hector (who figuratively undresses every woman he sees) with his mistress' daughter, Viviane; while Viviane (who is not quite the innocent she seems) is hoping to bed down with the father rather than the son. Also on hand are a nervous Georges Bizet (for whose opera Odile has predicted sure and permanent failure); the revered Charles Gounod, doyen of French opera (who is not above the temptations of the flesh, despite his age and exalted status); and the tempting coquette, La Tartine (who has come to seduce Gounod but, in the comic doings, finds herself closeted naked with the randy Hector Vigneron instead). Eventually things become so hilariously tangled that straightening them out is seemingly impossible—but straightened out they are, except in the case of poor Bizet, who knows only that his cherished work has failed that evening and does not live on long enough thereafter to learn that, in time, it will become the world's most popular opera.
Echoing the breakneck pace, mistaken identities, tangled, relationships and ribald double entendres of its classic French antecedents, this delightful farce uses an actual event, the first performance of Bizet's CARMEN, as a take-off point for its hilarious exploration of the outrageous behavior of the "better classes." First produced by San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, where it won both Drama-Logue and Bay Area Critics Awards. "…ribs sex, composer's angst, audience expectations and artistic hypocrisy." —Variety. "…funny without being mindless." —Baltimore Sun. "OPERA COMIQUE was written by a man who evidently takes enormous pleasure in the gentle undulations of language rolling off well-trained tongues." —San Francisco Examiner.