Opera Scotland

Fra Diavolo ou L'Hôtellerie de Terracine; or The Inn at Terracine

Music

Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber (born Caen, 29 January 1782; died Paris, 12 May 1871).

Text

Eugène Scribe.

Source

Original.

 

Premières

First performance: Paris (Opéra-Comique), 28 January 1830.

First UK performance: London (Drury Lane), 1 February 1831.

First performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 5 November 1875.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Auber enjoyed a long, successful and prolific career as a composer and teacher based in Paris. He did create serious operas, including La muette de Portici (1830), but his greatest successes came in the field of comic opera, of which Fra Diavolo is a deservedly enduring example. Fra Diavolo is a well-known bandit preying on travellers in the hills near Naples. He is something of a popular figure, being known for his chivalrous behaviour. Lorenzo is a soldier ordered to track him down, and the ‘milord’ and his lady first his victims, then the good-natured providers of the solution. Scribe’s original lordly title is more properly rendered as Coburg, though Cockburn is a more satisfactory British form. The Victorian translator got round the problem by calling them Lord and Lady Allcash, which gives the right idea.

 

Characters

Fra Diavolo, a bandit chief (tenor)

Lord Cokbourg, a British tourist (bass)

Lady Pamela, his wife (mezzo-soprano)

Lorenzo, a soldier (tenor)

Mathéo, an innkeeper (bass)

Zerline, Mathéo’s daughter (soprano)

Beppo, a bandit (tenor)

Giacomo, a bandit (bass)

 

Plot Summary

Zerlina, the innkeeper’s daughter loves Lorenzo, but he has no money, so her father refuses his consent and intends her to marry a local farmer. Fra Diavolo has targeted potential robbery victims in the form of Lord and Lady Cockburn, the lady’s jewels being a special attraction. They arrive at the inn having been robbed, and offer a reward for the recovery of her jewellery. Lorenzo and his colleagues go in pursuit. Another aristocrat arrives in his coach, and arranges to stay the night. He is shocked to hear that there are bandits in the area. When two beggars arrive he volunteers to pay for there lodging overnight. Alone with them, he receives their report – when they robbed the Britons they were unable to find any gold. When they tourists return, Fra Diavolo dismisses his men, and flatters his lordship into revealing the whereabouts of his money – notes stitched into their clothing. Lorenzo and the soldiers now return, having killed a number of the bandits and recovered the stolen property. With his share of the reward, Lorenzo will be able to marry Zerlina. That night, the guests prepare for bed. Zerlina’s room adjoins that of the Cockburns, and she acts as the lady’s maid. Fra Diavolo and his two men hide in her room while she is next door. Zerlina goes to sleep, but the bandits are unable to carry out their robbery because of the return of the soldiers from their second sortie. Zerlina goes to feed them, but is found by Lorenzo in what appears a compromising situation with the still disguised Fra Diavolo. Lorenzo challenged him to a duel. Next day, Fra Diavolo has laid his plans for revenge on Lorenzo and the troops. However Beppo and Giacomo give themselves away and are searched, revealing the plans to Lorenzo. He puts them into action so that when the all-clear signal is given, their chief enters the village to find that it is not deserted as was intended, and he is captured.

The Cast

Beppo
 a bandit
Fra Diavolo
 a bandit chief
Giacomo
 a bandit
Lady Pamela Cockburn
 
Lord Cockburn
 a British tourist
Lorenzo
 an officer of carabiniers
Matteo
 an innkeeper
Zerlina
 Matteo's daughter

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