May 27, 1980 | San Francisco Opera
Tartuffe
Composer:Kirke Mechem
Librettist:Kirke Mechem
Synopsis
Act I: Orgon Pernelle, a wealthy middle-class Parisian, has brought the wily opportunist Tartuffe into his house, where Orgon's mother berates the rest of the household for not living up to the standard of "that holy man." Elmire, Orgon's second wife, vainly attempts to make peace. Mariane and Damis enlist Elmire's help in holding their father to his promise that Mariane may wed Valere. Upon Orgon's return home, the maid Dorine tries to tell him that his wife has been ill, but Orgon asks only about Tartuffe. When Elmire questions Orgon about his promise to Mariane, he evades her. Orgon tells Mariane that Tartuffe is to be her husband, whereupon the eavesdropping Dorine bursts into laughter, pretending that Orgon must be joking. She ridicules Tartuffe and saucily interrupts Orgon, who storms out. As Dorine encourages Mariane to resist her father's wishes, Valere arrives and he and Mariane become locked in a lovers' misunderstanding about Tartuffe. Dorine reconciles them and plots a strategy to defeat Orgon and Tartuffe.

Act II: Dorine arranges a meeting between Tartuffe and Elmire. She tries to get rid of Damis, but he insists on hiding. Tartuffe appears with a great show of sanctity, a pretense he drops when left alone with Elmire. She reproaches him for his advances but promises not to tell her husband if Tartuffe will persuade Orgon to permit Mariane to wed Valere. Damis springs out of his hiding place, swearing to reveal Tartuffe's duplicity to the world, despite Elmire's desire only to right the wrong and to avoid a scandal. Orgon arrives and Damis denounces Tartuffe, but the hypocrite so cunningly chastises himself that Orgon blindly accuses his son of trying to "stigmatize this saintly man's pure name" and orders Damis from the house. When he threatens to marry Mariane to Tartuffe that very day, Elmire appeals to her husband and to Tartuffe, hinting to the latter that he had best keep their bargain. Sure of his position, Tartuffe manipulates Orgon into deeding his house and goods over to him.

Act III: Elmire finally persuades Orgon to witness Tartuffe's treachery with his own eyes. Orgon is to hide under a table and come out when Elmire signals by coughing. The wary villain enters. Elmire professes great feeling for him, and Tartuffe demands to "savor some tender favor" as proof, freely admitting his lust for her and his scorn for religion. In spite of Elmire's frantic coughing, Orgon does not emerge until Tartuffe begins to speak contemptuously of him. The game is up, but Tartuffe merely shakes the deed of gift at Orgon and exits, threatening that "it's you, not I, who has to leave!" Still defending the imposter, Orgon is interrupted by a court bailiff (Damis in disguise) who has come with Tartuffe to evict the family. Meeting with resistance, they leave to summon the police. Damis sneaks back and reveals his scheme to the family, then returns again in disguise with Tartuffe, who demands Orgon's arrest. A fanfare ushers in Mariane, disguised as a special envoy of the king, who has sent an order to arrest...Tartuffe! The "royal envoy" enumerates the impostor's crimes and orders him to leave the country or be jailed. Tartuffe flees, and Orgon, confessing his foolishness, presents Mariane to Valere, to everyone's delight.

Productions
Click company name to view productions details.
COMPANYTITLEDATES
Opera SaratogaTartuffe6/6/2007 - 7/7/2007
Skylight Music TheatreTartuffe1/1/2007 - 2/11/2007


Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)
02:10

Musical Style
Tonal; lyrical; comical, with musical references to Beethoven, Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Stravinsky.

Vocal & Musical Forces
2 Sopranos, 2 Mezzo-Sopranos, Tenor, 2 Baritones, Bass; Silent Role, Optional Chorus

Original Cast
John Del Carlo (Tartuffe)
Thomas Hammons (Orgon)
Susan Quittmeyer (Elmire)
Edward Huls (Damis)
Rebecca Cook (Mariane)
Robert Tate (ValŠre)
Evelyn de la Rosa (Dorine)
Leslie Richards (Madame Pernelle)
Renee De Jarnatt (Flipote)


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