L'Enfant Prodigue

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There are a number of works entitled L'Enfant Prodigue ("The Prodigal Child")

L'Enfant Prodigue (1736) by Voltaire

This is a verse play in five acts by Voltaire (1694-1778)[], later also published under the title L'enfant Prodigue, ou L'ecole de la Jeunesse

The original text

First performed in Paris at the Théâtre de la Comédie Française on 10 October, 1736. Published in Paris by Prault fils. in 1738.

Translations and adaptations

Often parodied, it was doubtless the key source for the versions that followed.

Performance history in South Africa

L'Enfant Prodigue (1884) an opera by Claude Debussy (music) and Edouard Guinand (libretto)

The original text

First performed in Paris on 27 April, 1884 and in London at Covent Garden on 28 February, 1910.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

L'Enfant Prodigue (1890) by Michel Carré Fils and André Wormser

The original text

A full length, three act musical "play without words" (also referred to as a "French pantomime" in some sources), with a book by Michel Carré Fils (1865-1945)[1] and André Wormser (1851-1926)[2], in the tradition of the Commedia dell'Arte[3]. Published by E. Biardot in **. First produced in Paris during 1890, opening at the Cercle Funambulesque, then transferring to the Thêátre Bouffes-Parisiens on 21 June.

It was performed to huge success at the Prince of Wales Theatre London from 31 March, 1891, by Charles Laurie's company and at the Vaudeville Club, New York in February, 1894.

Translations and adaptations

Also known as The Prodigal Child or The Prodigal Son in English-speaking countries.

Performance history in South Africa

1893: Performed in the mimed version as L'Enfant Prodigue in the Vaudeville Theatre, Cape Town, by the Wheeler Company, with Edward Vincent, Helen Rous, Gus Wheatman, Harriet Wood and Frank Wheeler.


Online facsimile version of the original Voltaire text of 1738, published by Ernest et Paul Fièvre, January 2018[4]



Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900: Late 19th Century Drama 1850-1900 Cambridge University Press: p.516[5]

Tracy C. Davis. 2012. The Broadview Anthology of Nineteenth-Century British Performance, Broadview Press: p.562[6]

The Era Almanack, 1891:p. 65. [7]

D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.395, 431

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