Thursday, February 19, 2015
AUBER : FRA DIAVOLO
Fra Diavolo, ou L'hôtellerie de Terracine (Fra Diavolo, or The Inn of Terracina) is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer Daniel Auber, from a libretto by Auber's regular collaborator Eugène Scribe. It is loosely based on the life of the Itrani guerrilla leader Michele Pezza, active in southern Italy in the period 1800-1806, who went under the name of Fra Diavolo ("Brother Devil"). The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Ventadour in Paris on 28 January 1830 (Wiki)
INTRODUCTION (French Wiki)
This is a comic opera, with a libretto by Eugène Scribe; it is based on an Italian bandit (or leader of a band of freedom fighters against Napoleon’s French invaders in southern Italy in the period 1800-1806). His name was Michele Pezza, code name Fra Diavolo (Brother Devil). In this setting he is a robber and a burglar.
The setting is an inn at Terracina, on the west coast of Italy, not far from Rome; it was and is a tourist resort, connected to the Appian Way. (I think I have been there)
The innkeeper is Mathéo; his daughter Zerline loves Lorenzo, a humble soldier; but her father insists that she will marry Francesco, who is old and rich.
Fra Diavolo has disguised himself as a marquis, and has ingratiad himself with two wealthy English travellers, Lord Cockburn (or Cokbourg) and his wife Lady Pamela; he robs them.
Lorenzo retrieves part of the hoard; he is rewarded with enough money to marry Zerline. However, the villain returns with his two comical henchman, named Giacomo and Beppo; they steal Zerlina’s dowry (Lorenzo’s reward). Lorenzo appears, and thinks the marquis is a rival, and challenges him to a duel.
Fra Diavolo plans to kill Lorenzo, and to rob Milord of his wealth and his wife; but he and his accomplices are caught; Lorenzo replaces Francisco in the wedding ceremony.
The real Fra Diavlo was executed by the French, in good King Napoleon’s reign.
We will watch an early Hollywood movie of the opera (MGM, with the menagerie lion), from 1933. It is reduced to 87 minutes. FRA DIAVOLO or The Devil’s Brother.
Notice that Beppo and Giacomo become Stanlio and Ollio, two well-known comic actors of the time. Say no more.