Opera Scotland

Cadi The Cadi; Le Caïd


Ambroise Thomas (born Metz, 5 August 1811; diedParis, 12 February 1896)


Thomas Marie François Sauvage





First performance: Paris (Opera Comique), 3 January 1849.

First performance in UK: London (St James's Theatre), 28 January 1850.

First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Gaiety Theatre), 17 March 1881.

Scottish Opera Première: N/A.



Le Caïd was an early work by Thomas, in a rather lighter vein than the two operas, Mignon and Hamlet, on which his modern reputation rests. The work was seen as Italanate in style - very light and frothy, with plenty of demanding coloratura for the singers. It did enjoy a brief vogue around Europe, and audiences appear to have enjoyed it. However, even in France it barely survived the First World War, and has fallen into complete neglect in modern times.


Main Characters

Virginie, a French milliner and dressmaker (soprano)

Birotteau, a French barber, in love with Virginie (tenor)

Michel, Tambour-Major (baritone)

Aboul-y-Vaz, the Cadi (bass)

Fatima, his daughter (mezzo-soprano)

Ali Baba, a eunuch, attendant on the Cadi (tenor)


Plot Summary

Birotteau is marooned in Algiers, where the demand for barbers is slight. His only compensation is his love for Virginie, who has a similar problem, and also wishes to return home. They both need money for the fare. The Cadi is unpopular with the locals because of his meanness, and Birotteau advises him on a solution in the hope of getting a suitable financial reward, although the 'solution' is, in fact, merely a lotion supposed to restore hair growth. The Cadi is unwilling to pay for the barber's services, instead offering his daughter in marriage. This causes a problem for Birotteau and Virginie, but also for Fatima, who is involved with Michel, an army officer. An appropriate outcome is eventually reached, leaving both couples happy, though whether the Cadi's solution has long-term benefits is less assured.

The Cast

 the Cadi
Ali Baba
 a eunuch, attendant on the Cadi
 a French barber, in love with Virginie
 the Cadi's daughter
 Tambour-Major of the 20th Regiment of the Line
 a French milliner and dressmaker

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