Mignon is an opéra comique (or opera in its second version) in three acts by Ambroise Thomas. The original French libretto was by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. The Italian version was translated by Giuseppe Zaffira. The opera is mentioned in James Joyce's "The Dead" (Dubliners) and Willa Cather's The Professor's House. Thomas's goddaughter Mignon Nevada was named after the main character.
The first performance was at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 17 November 1866. The piece proved popular: more than 100 performances took place by the following July, the 1,000th was given there on 13 May 1894, and the 1,500th on 25 May 1919.
The opera was also adapted and translated into German for performance in Berlin with Madame Lucca as Mignon. Lucca was well received, but the German critics were unhappy with the opera's alterations to the Goethe original, so Thomas composed a shorter finale with a tragic ending, in which Mignon falls dead in the arms of Wilhelm. This ending was an attempt to make the story of the opera somewhat more similar in tone to the tragic outcome of Goethe's. (The original version of Mignon for the Opéra-Comique had to have a happy ending, since at that time in Paris tragic operas in French were exclusively reserved for the Opéra.) Unsurprisingly, this "Version allemande" still failed to satisfy the German critics and proved to be a futile endeavor. As Henry Edward Krehbiel describes it, the "Mignon of Carré and Barbier bears little more than an external resemblance to the Mignon of Goethe, and to kill her is wanton cruelty."