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First performed in 1866, Barbe-Bleue, as the work is called in the original French, is considered one of the most biting operettas par excellence. It is teeming with corrupt politicians, shady scientists, duped machos and good-humored murder victims. In his adaptation, Offenbach turns the material of the Bluebeard saga on its head: In Offenbach's work, the knight Bluebeard does not personally burden himself with the elimination of his wives, but leaves this to his alchemist Popolani, who is supposed to poison them. The latter, however, has a soft heart and lets all of Bluebeard's ex-wives live. When the peasant Boulotte joins them as wife number six, revolution ensues: under Boulotte's leadership, the women march out of their crypts and confront Bluebeard with his misdeeds.

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