Opera Scotland


Tours by decade

1870s - 1 tour

1877 - Carl Rosa Opera Company
Fully Staged with Orchestra

Tours by location


Frederic Cowen (born Kingston, Jamaica, 29 January 1852; died London, 6 October 1935)


Henry Hersee.


Comedy The Lady of Lyons, or Love and Pride (1838) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-73).



First performance: London (Lyceum), 22 November 1876.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Royal Edinburgh), 20 February 1877.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



This was the first of four operas composed by Sir Frederic Cowen, and used as its source a play which was enormously popular during the second half of the century. The title role was played by many of the leading actresses of the day, including Ellen Terry. Hersee's libretto inevitably made a substantial reduction in the number of characters, and the musical style relied to a great extent on the established popular ballad forms.


Main Characters

Claude Melnotte (baritone)

Widow Melnotte, his mother (mezzo-soprano)

Glavis, his friend (tenor)

Beauséant (baritone)

Deschapelles (bass)

Madame Deschapelles (mezzo-soprano)

Pauline Deschapelles (soprano)


Plot Summary

The Deschapelles are a wealthy Lyon family, and Pauline is courted by the socially superior aristocrat Beauséant. However she turns him down, as a result of which he becomes embittered. The Melnottes are far lower down the social scale, Claude's father having worked as gardener on the Deschapelles estate. However Claude loves Pauline, and is persuaded by Beauséant to pay court to her under an assumed identity. This is successful, and the couple marry. When the ruse is discovered, Pauline insists on having the marriage annulled. Claude joins the army and leaves the scene. By the time he returns, an acknowledged hero with new status and wealth, the Deschapelles' fortunes have taken a turn for the worse, and the way is open for the couple to remarry in a more honest, loving relationship.

The Cast

Claude Melnotte
 Melnotte's friend
Madame Deschapelles
 the Deschapelles' daughter
Widow Melnotte
 Claude's mother

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