The Bohemian Girl is an opera composed by Michael Balfe with a libretto by Alfred Bunn. The plot is loosely based on a Cervantes tale, La Gitanilla.
The opera was first produced in London at the Drury Lane Theatre on November 27 1843. The production ran for 100 nights and enjoyed many revivals wordwide including: New York (25 November 1844), Dublin (1844), Philadelphia (1844) and Vienna (in German, 1846). Since World War 2 it has been staged by the Arts Theatre, Belfast (1978) and by Opera South in Haslemere in England (2008)
The best-known aria from the piece is "I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls." In this Arline describes her vague memories of her childhood. It has been recorded by many artists, including Enya and Celtic Woman.
||Premiere Cast, 27 November 1843 |
(Conductor: Julius Benedict )
|Arline, daughter of Count Arnheim
||Elizabeth Rainforth ('Emma Romer') |
|Thaddeus, a Polish fugitive
||William Harrison |
|Queen of the Gypsies
|Devilshoof, chief of the gypsies
|| Stretton |
|Florestein, nephew of the Count
|Buda, Arline's attendant
|Captain of the Guard
noble, Thaddeus, in exile in Austria
, joins a band of Gypsies. He saves Arline, the infant daughter of Count Arnheim, from being killed by a deer. The count, in gratitude, invites him to a banquet, where Thaddeus refuses to toast a statue of the Austrian Emperor, instead splashing it with wine, and escapes from his enraged host with the help of his gypsy friend Devilshoof, who kidnaps Arline.
Twelve years have elapsed. Arline can only vaguely remember her noble upbringing. She and Thaddeus are sweethearts, but the Gypsy
Queen is also in love with him. Arnheim's nephew Florestein falls in love with Arline (not recognising her), but the Queen plants a medallion stolen from Florestein on Arline. Florestein recognises the medallion and has her arrested. She is tried before the Count. who recognises the scar left on her arm from the deer attack.
Arline is at a ball in her father's castle, where she feels nostalgic
for her Romany upbringing and for her true love
. Thaddeus breaks into the castle through a window and pleads for her hand. He eventually wins the trust of the count whom he insulted twelve years ago, and the Count gives them his blessing. The Gypsy Queen stalks
Thaddeus to the castle and tries to break in through the same window to kill Arline with a musket and kidnap Thaddeus. Before she can execute her plan, however, Devilshoof tries to wrest the weapon from her hands and she is accidentally killed in the scuffle.
- 1. "Up With The Banner, And Down With The Slave"
- 2. "'Tis Sad To Leave Our Fatherland"
- 3. "In The Gypsy's Life"
- 4. "Is No Succour Near At Hand?"
- 5. "Down With The Daring Slave"
- 6. "What Sound Breaks On The Ear?"
- 7. "Follow, Follow"Act II
- 8. "Silence, Silence"
- 9. "Wine, Wine!"
- 10. "I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls"
- 11. "The Secret of Her Birth"
- 12. "Happy And Light Of Heart Are Those"
- 13. "'Tis Gone, The Past Was All A Dream"
- 14. "Come With The Gipsy Bride"
- 15. "Life Itself Is, At The Best"
- 16. "To The Hall!"
- 17. "That Grief May Call Its Own"
- 18. "Hold! Hold! We Cannot Give The Life We Take"Act III
- 18. "You'll Remember Me"
- 19. "Through All The World Thou Wilt Fly, My Love"
- 20. Welcome To The Present"
- 21. "Oh, What Full Delight"
A silent movie
version was made in Britain
. The great Ellen Terry
, much better known as a stage actress, made her last screen appearance as Buda the nursemaid
. Ivor Novello
plays Thaddeus, Gladys Cooper
plays Arline, and C. Aubrey Smith
An early sound version was filmed in Britain in 1927, starring Pauline Johnson as Arline and Herbert Langley as Thaddeus.
The best known version is undoubtedly the Laurel and Hardy film, described in the opening credits as "A Comedy Version of The Bohemian Girl". The characters played by Laurel and Hardy do not appear in the stage opera, nor does Thaddeus appear in the film.
The Bohemian Girl
is mentioned in the short stories Clay
by James Joyce
which are both parts of The Dubliners
. In Clay
, the character Maria sings some lines from "I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls." This aria is also quoted in Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake
Willa Cather has also referenced the work. One of her short stories, entitled The Bohemian Girl, incorporates quotes from some of the arias (again including "I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls"). The plot of the story also has some substantial parallels to the original.