Created on October 12, 1867, V’lan dans l’œil – or L’œil crevé [The Hollow Eye]-  marks the first confirmed triumph of Hervé. The duet between Dindonnette and Alexandrivore, in the first act, is musically a page of opera that Hervé suddenly interrupts to precipitate you into a frenzied gallop… Then he makes you smile with ” La Polonaise et l’hirondelle “, a real villanelle which could evoke the one of Hector Berlioz’s Summer Nights… Let’s also mention the hilarious ” Légende de la langouste atmosphérique “, sung in the langue d’Oc. Hervé’s satirical finesse climates in choral writing, such as the unavoidable “Chœur des chasseurs” in which he parodies the famous Freischütz from Weber, of which the plot of V’lan dans l’œil is, at times, a true pastiche.


A crossbow shooting contest is organized by the Marquis of Esprucpruck, so that his daughter Fleur-de-Noblesse, whose only passion on earth is carpentry, can marry the winner. Alexandrivore, although engaged to Dindonnette, feels obliged to participate: his dexterity as a crossbowman is legendary in the region. Fleur-de-Noblesse has made the whole stand herself, but also the target, which she has rigged, so that when Alexandrivore sends his arrow, she cleverly fakes having received it in the eye… condemning the clumsy man to prison. Dindonnette, disguised as a doctor, operates and sensibly extracts the projectile that wounded Fleur-de-Noblesse, allowing her to marry another suitor, Ernest, the little cabinetmaker she secretly loves. Then we learn all about the Duke d’En Face and the whims of his teeth, as well as the fate of the poor child who was once “abandoned by horsemen one night in a hatbox…! “After so much emotion, Alexandrivore will unite her days with those of Dindonnette, happy with her happiness and the success of her intervention.

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