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Ruy Blas

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Filippo Marchetti (born Bolognola, Macerata, 26 February 1831; died Rome, 18 January 1902)


Carlo d'Ormeville.


Drama (1838) by Victor Hugo (1802-1885).



First Performance: Milan (La Scala), 3 April 1869.

First Performance in UK: London (Her Majesty's Theatre), 24 November 1877.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 7 March 1878.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Victor Hugo's drama was extremely popular in its early years, but like his other plays, it has failed to survive outside France. The only piece of music on the theme to have survived into the modern repertoire is Mendelssohn's concert overture of 1839, when Victor Hugo's ink was still almost wet. It did attract a few composers to set it in operatic form, including one William Glover, whose version opened at Covent Garden in 1861. Marchetti seems to be the only composer who had significant success with the theme, and his opera was performed widely for several years. But even by the standards of Hugo's other stage works the plot is remarkably implausible.


Main Characters

Don Sallust, banished Prime Minister (baritone)

Ruy Blas, his valet (tenor)

Don Pedro, Governor of Castile (tenor)

Donna Maria, Queen of Spain (soprano)

Donna Juana, her lady in waiting (mezzo-soprano)


Plot Summary

The period is Spain c1700 (Similar to that of Wallace's Maritana). Don Sallust, having fallen in love with the queen but been rejected by her, determines on revenge. Aware that his servant, Ruy Blas, also loves the queen, he disguises the man as his cousin Don Cesar, and introduces him to the Court. Blas swiftly rises up the social scale, and the queen falls for him. Sallust, to further his plot, determines to expose the affair, so Blas kills his master, before killing himself.

The Cast

 lady in waiting to the Queen
Don Fernando
 di Cordova
Don Gurritano
 Grand Major Domo
Don Manuel Arias
 Grand Equerry
Don Pedro
 di Guevara, Governor of Castile
Don Sallust de Bazan
 banished Prime Minister, in love with the Queen
Donna Juana
 Giovanna de la Cueva, First Lady of Honour to the Queen
Donna Maria
 Marie de Neubourg, Queen of Spain
Ruy Blas
 Valet to Don Sallust, later disguised as Don Caesar de Bazan

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