Opera Scotland

Siege of Rochelle The Siege of Rochelle

Tours by decade

1870s - 1 tour

1877 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

Tours by location


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


Edward Fitzball (1792-1873).


Novel Le Siège de la Rochelle by Madame de Genlis, adapted by Gaetano Rossi for Luigi Ricci's opera Chiara di Rosembergh (1831).



First performance: London (Drury Lane), 29 October 1835.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Royal Edinburgh Theatre), 2 March 1877.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



The Siege of Rochelle was Balfe's first opera in English. He had already achieved a successful career on the continent as a baritone (performing Figaro in Paris in Rossini's presence in 1827) and having his first opera premiered in Palermo. His next English opera, The Maid of Artois, was a variant on the plot of Manon Lescaut and, featuring Malibran in the title role, also had a great success. However both these works were eclipsed by the enormous success of The Bohemian Girl in 1843. Balfe himself sang the role of Michel, who is a dominant figure in the drama, even though ostensibly only part of the sub-plot.


Main Characters

Clara (soprano)

Marquis de Valmour (tenor)

Count Rosenberg (bass)

Michel, a farmer and miller, formerly in the Count's service (baritone)

Marcella, Michel's wife (soprano)

Montalban (bass-baritone)


Plot Summary

The plot is somewhat complicated. Some years before, Count Rosenberg secretly married one Princess Euphemia, and they had a child. This child, Clara, has been brought up in ignorance of her true parentage, and believes herself to be the daughter of Montalban. The Marquis de Valmour is a widower, bringing up a child. He and Clara love one another, but this relationship is jeopardised by the suspicious death of the child. Clara is aware that Montalban is the guilty party, but convinced that she is his daughter, she conceals the knowledge to the point where suspicion falls on herself. She is condemned for the crime, and is only exonerated, in the nick of time, as the result of the revelation of her true parentage, and the exposure by Michel of Montalban's true villainy.

The Cast

 a monk
Count Rosenberg
 Michel's wife
Marquis de Valmour
 a miller
 a corporal

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