The musical comedy known as Burlesque Opera of Tabasco was a hot ticket in 1894, selling out around the United States. And then Tabasco, one of America's oldest operas, disappeared. However, in 2012, New Orleans conductor Paul Mauffray discovered the opera’s missing libretto, along with other documents. Two years later, audiences were treated to parts of the reconstructed score. In early 2018, Mauffray unveiled the entire re-assembled opera, retitled Tabasco: A Burlesque Opera, at Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré in New Orleans.
An opera with a little kick:
- The opera revolves around a Middle Eastern pasha who loves spicy food. His chef searches high and low for the right seasonings, which turn out to be the iconic pepper sauce still made in Louisiana.
- The production faded away after a dispute about profits. Mauffray has been piecing together its musical history ever since finding remnants of the original libretto in a locked box.
- “We still have the flavor of an 1890s Gilbert and Sullivan-style show,” says Mauffray. And the McIlhenny Company, makers of Tabasco, is still bankrolling some of the production.