is an operetta
by Emmanuel Chabrier
with libretto by Eugène Leterrier
and Albert Vanloo
. It premiered on 28 November 1877
's Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens
It debuted in Berlin on 4 October 1878, in Budapest on 23 November 1878, and in New York City in 1899, ineptly rewritten and titled The Merry Monarch, with new music by Woolson Morse. It fared no better in London, where the score was rewritten by Ivan Caryll. In Brussels in 1909 Chabrier's music was restored. The operetta's first major revival was in 1941 in Paris under Nazi occupation, at which time the highlights of the score were recorded; the first complete recording came in 1985.
King Ouf the First roams his city, in disguise, searching for a suitable subject to execute as a birthday treat. Herisson de Porc-Epic, an ambassador, and his wife, Aloes, arrive, accompanied by his secretary, Tapioca, and Laoula, the daughter of a neighboring monarch. They are traveling incognito, and the princess is being passed off as Herisson's wife. Their mission, of which Laoula is unaware, is to marry her to Ouf. Complications arise when Laoula and a poor peddler, Lazuli, fall in love at first sight. Scolded for flirting, Lazuli insults the disguised king and thus becomes a desired candidate for death by impalement. But Siroco, the king's astrologer, reveals that the fates of the king and the peddler are inextricably linked; the stars predict that they will die within 24 hours of each other. Fortunes change again, and Lazuli is escorted with honors into the palace.
Lazuli, feted and well fed, grows bored with luxury and longs for Laoula. Ouf, still unaware of the disguises, furthers the lovers' hopes of marriage by imprisoning the supposed husband, Herisson. The lovers depart but Herisson escapes and orders the peddler shot. Gunfire is heard, but although Laoula is brought in there is no sign of Lazuli. Ouf bemoans his fate.
Lazuli, having escaped harm, overhears Ouf, Siroco and Herisson discussing the situation, and eventually reveals himself to Laoula. They plan a second elopement. Ouf, desperate to marry Laoula and secure an heir to the throne, tries to thwart the lovers again, but a further prediction from Siroco resolves the situation in Lazuli's favor.