Le Pays de L’Or. Pièce à Grand Spectacle en 3 actes et 14 tableaux.
C.1892 French poster for a comic operetta and spectacle set in America and featuring African and Native Americans
C.1892 French chromolithographic poster for Le Pays de l’Or [The Golden or Promised Land], a comic operetta and spectacle set in America including the Western plains and mountains.
The poster, designed by artist “Le Maresquier”—possibly Louis Sébastien Lemaresquier (1843–?), features a woman aerial gymnast riding a bicycle on a slack wire over Niagara Falls. Americana-themed vignettes surrounding her include a pair of American flags on the stern of the sailing ship Washington, a comic hotel scene with African American servants, and two fantastically rendered Native Americans.
Th three-act operetta included 14 tableaus and such musical numbers as “Salut! reine de l’Amérique” [Greetings! Queen of America], “En Amérique, c’est la mode” [It’s the fashion in America], and “Parcourant les monts et la plaine” [Roaming the mountains and plains] sung by a choir of Native Americans styled “Red Skins”—“Chœr des Peaux-Rouges.”
Scenes from the operetta, set in a hotel room, feature a choir of Black servants, a “Quatuor Boufe” [Comic Quartet], and the “Chanson Nègre” [Negro Song], “Ça qui est bon?” [Which is good?] sung by a character named “Tom.” One of these comedic scenes is depicted on the poster vignette wherein two African-American servants appear to throw a clothed man into a bathtub.
The principal poster illustration of the woman aerial gymnast depicts her costumed as the moon goddess Luna. Suspended from her bicycle seat over the waterfall is a gentleman who observes from his perilous perch a string of women jockeys (without horses), riding crops in hand, racing down a narrow trail along the precipice. In the upper right, a man in evening clothes assists the gymnast in putting on a cloak.
Le Pays de l’Or. Pièce à Grand Spectacle, seen in the record subtitled as a mixed pantomime, was first performed in Paris at the Théâtrte de la Gaîté on January 26, 1892.¹ It featured a libretto by playwrights Henri-Charles Chivot (1830–1897) of France and Albert Vanloo (1846–1920) of Belgium. The music was composed by French organist and conductor Léon Vasseur (1844–1917) who served as the conductor of the celebrated Parisian cabaret music hall, The Folies Bergère. All of these men are credited on the poster.
Description: Le Pays de L’Or. Pièce à Grand Spectacle en 3 actes et 14 tableaux.
Paris: Choudens Fils, Editeurs, c.1892. p. Broadside or Poster. 31½ x 23¾. Chromolithography with metallic ink highlights by Lemercier of Paris. Remnants of hinge mount tape at top verso; four old, inexpert thin paper mends in margins of verso; six thicker paper mends in margins of verso; images clean with bright colors; very good.
Note. 1. Letellier, Operetta: A Sourcebook, Volume 1 (Newcastle upon Tyne, 2015), p304. Ref. Catalog Record: Le pays de l’or; pièce à grand spectacle en… | Hathi Trust Digital Library accessed online.