Opera Scotland

Satanella or, The Power of Love

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Michael William Balfe (born Dublin, 15 May 1808; died Rowney Abbey, Herts., 20 October 1870)


Augustus Harris and Edmund Falconer (Edmund O'Rourke).


Play Le Diable boiteux (1707) by Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747).



First performance: London (Covent Garden), 20 December 1858.

First performance in Scotland: To be confirmed.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



One of the grandest of Balfe's British operas, strongly influenced by works he had composed on the continent.


Main Characters

Count Rupert (tenor)

Princess Stella, his betrothed (mezzo-soprano)

Lelia, his foster-sister (soprano)

Arimanes, the devil (bass)

Satanella, his attendant sprite Ssoprano)

Bracaccio, pirate king (baritone)


Plot Summary

Count Rupert, betrothed to Princess Stella, is seen by his fiancée handing a ring to his foster sister Lelia.  The lady, being offended, withdraws her favour, and Rupert, in a fit of pique, takes to gambling for high stakes and loses all his estates.  All that is left him is an old haunted castle, to which he retreats to lick his wounds.  Here he summons the powers of darkness, Arimanes and his attendant female sprite, Satanella.  To the latter is entrusted the undoing of Rupert, but instead of that she falls in love with him, and schemes to marry him herself.  With this end in view she gets a band of pirates to make off with both Lelia and Stella, and is on the point of being wedded to Rupert when Arimanes intervenes, and recalls her to the shades beneath.  Here a passionate interview between the two demons takes place, and Satanella eventually undertakes to bring back Rupert to his doom in 30 days.  Meantime Lelia, whom Rupert now determines to wed, has been conveyed to an Eastern slave market, and Rupert, who follows, is enabled to save her by the help of Satanella, to whom he signs a bond for his soul.  On his wedding day Satanella demands payment of the bond, but is baulked of her purpose by the purity of Lelia’s attachment, inasmuch as the latter gives up her bridegroom’s love rather than ask him to break his bond.  Realising that Lelia's love is stronger than hers, Satanella burns the bond, restores Lelia to her lover, and prepares again to face Arimanes and her doom.  But the purity of Lelia’s love is stronger even than the powers of darkness.  She arms Satanella with her rosary, against whose influence Arimanes is powerless, and the final tableau shows Rupert and Lelia at the altar, while Satanella ascends into the arms of the angels.

The Cast

 a fiend
 leader of the Pirates
Count Rupert
 a landowner
 tutor to Count Rupert
 a manservant
 foster-sister to Count Rupert
 a female demon, attendant on Arimanes
 a Princess, engaged to Rupert

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