La Farce de Maître Pathelin(1938)
Libretto by Gustav Cohen after a Middle Ages farce (F,E)
Revised chamber scoring (1978): 126.96.36.199-0.1.0.0-strings(188.8.131.52.0)
Boosey & Hawkes
Conductor: Pierre Dervaux
France, Medieval times
Maître Pathelin, a lawyer, and his wife Guillermette are discussing their straitened circumstances. He tells her that notwithstanding their poverty he will locate some fine Brussels cloth. He sets off for the draper's shop, where he flatters the owner, Guillaume, and is given some cloth on credit. The draper can come to collect the money from his home. Back at Pathelin's house, his wife is thrilled with the cloth but wonders how they will pay for it. Pathelin instructs her: he will go to bed, and when Guillaume calls she will say that he has been ill for weeks and never left home. The draper arrives, and is informed of Pathelin's illness but begs to differ: he has only just sold him some cloth. Guillermette stresses that the moment of her husband's illness is no time for jokes. Pathelin pretends to believe Guillaume to be a doctor, and himself to be dying, and eventually the draper leaves without his cash. Back in his shop, the draper berates a shepherd who has had charge of his sheep and killed them. The shepherd rushes off to find a lawyer and goes to see Pathelin, who takes the case and advises his client to reply to all questions in court by bleating. At the trial, Guillaume is amazed to see Pathelin defending the shepherd and keeps mixing up his two grievances, one regarding cloth, the other sheep. The shepherd confuses matters further by bleating incessantly. The judge dismisses the case, but when Pathelin asks for his fee all the shepherd does is bleat.