Opera Scotland

Claude Duval or Love and Larceny

Tours by decade

Tours by location


Edward Solomon (born London, 25 July 1855; died London, 22 January 1895)


Henry Pottinger Stephens.


Popular 18th century French legend.



First Performance: London (Olympic Theatre), 24 August 1881.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Royalty Theatre), 26 December 1881.



Billee Taylor, the first collaboration of Solomon and Stephens, enjoyed a modest success. However Claude Duval, though its impact was significant enough to justify a national tour, and the New York transfer was very successful, failed to stay in the repertoire. If Billee Taylor drew unfavourable comparison with HMS Pinafore, perhaps the good-natured highwaymen central to the plot of Claude Duval put people too much in mind of The Pirates of Penzance. Even so, Richard D'Oyly Carte seems to have liked the piece enough to tour it. While Claude himself was a character from French legend, set in the eighteenth century, the Stephens libretto placed him firmly in the Home Counties, and in an earlier period, soon after the Restoration of King Charles II. An odd feature of the British provincial tour is that it seems only to have covered the four Scottish cities. The excursion began in Glasgow, before visiting Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Dundee.


Main Characters

Claude Duval, a highwayman (baritone)

Charles Lorrimore, his friend (tenor)

Blood-red Bill, Duval's Lieutenant (baritone)

Martin McGruder, a wealthy miser

Mistress Betty, McGruder's sister (contralto)

Constance, McGruder's niece (soprano)

Sir Whiffle Waffle, a wealthy fop (baritone)


Plot Summary

On Newmarket Heath Duval's gang of highwaymen capture Charles Lorrimore, who turns out to be an old friend of Duval's. Having fallen out of political favour and become a fugitive, he has lost his estates, which have been usurped by Martin McGruder, a miser whose niece loves, and is loved by, Charles. When McGruder and his nieces also cross the heath, their coach is held up by the gang, but Duval lets them go, their only penance being that Constance should dance a minuet with him.

To further his own ambition, McGruder negotiates a marriage between Constance and Sir Whiffle. When soldiers come to arrest Charles, he is able to escape because Duval takes over his identity and is arrested instead. The highwaymen gain entry to Milden Manor, once Charles Lorrimore's ancestral home, and now occupied by McGruder and his sister, Betty. She is persuaded by Blood-red Bill to let them have documents that establish rightful ownership of the estate. Duval escapes from his captors. Charles, restored to his estates, receives a pardon and is able to marry Constance.

Sources: Wikipedia, Dundee Courier, Aberdeen Journal, Glasgow Herald.

The Cast

Blood-red Bill
 Duval's Lieutenant
Charles Lorrimore
 Duval's Friend, a Fugitive
Claude Duval
 a Highwayman
 McGruder's Niece
Martin McGruder
 an Elderly Miser
Mistress Betty
 McGruder's Sister
 McGruder's Niece
Sir Whiffle Whaffle
 a Wealthy Fop

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