Opera Scotland

Fra Diavolo 1875Italian Opera Company

Read more about the opera Fra Diavolo

While Naudin and Thalberg were clearly the stars of this show, Joseph Tagliafico was a veteran who had worked a quarter-century earlier with Grisi and Mario.


An Edinburgh Review

The Scotsman: Thursday, 16 December 1875

The Queen's Theatre - Opera - Fra Diavolo

'Fra Diavolo, performed last night with an excellent cast, drew only a moderately good house.  If we except certain performances in English by Mr Corri’s modest little troupe a few years since in the Operetta House, it is very long since this opera has been produced in Edinburgh.  Yet it is, next to Masaniello - Auber’s chef d’oeuvre – a work whose vivacity and light exhilarating character make it an unfailing favourite with popular audiences.  No one can help being amused with the principal dramatis personae – namely the “Milord Anglais,” as he need to exist in the fancy of our Continental neighbours; his equally unreal lady; the polite, gentlemanly, soi-disant Marquis; the picturesque and comical Giacomo and Beppo; the arch, innocent girl of the inn and her sentimental lover, who is credulous enough to believe the very worst of his innamorata on the mere word of a stranger.

'If the composer’s preference for rhythmical closes to the development of musical ideas throws over the music an air of triviality, it is generally brilliant and sparkling, and abounds in captivating melody, while there are a few scenes of a more serious character by way of contrast.

'Last night’s cast was as follows: - Zerlina, Mdlle Zaré Thalberg; Fra Diavolo, M Naudin; Lord Coburg, Signor Scolari; Lady Coburg, Mdlle Ghiotti; Beppo, Signor Tagliafico; Giacomo, Signor Proni;  Lorenzo M Filli.   Her father’s distinguished career, the laurels she had herself won in London, and her extremely prepossessing appearance ensured Mdlle Thalberg a hearty welcome in the opening scene, and the enthusiasm of the audience rose as the opera proceeded.   She has a pure soprano of clear silvery quality, equal in every part; and her sprightly vivacious, and yet refined style of singing exactly fits her to shine in this light and graceful part.   The song on the exploits of the brigand chief was delivered as if she had firm faith in the story, and she had to repeat the pretty air “Che piacer” at the beginning of the second act.   She was very charming in the scene in the bedchamber so much admired by Mendelssohn, where, after regarding herself in the glass, she congratulates her future husband on the possession of a face and figure not to be despised – then, after performing her devotions, retires to rest all unconscious of the secret witnesses of her actions. 

'M Naudin entered con amore into the part of the couleur de rose brigand (sufficiently unlike the real Michele Pozzo), who, in the character of an Italian Marquis, tracks the Englishman from place to place, feigns the deepest interest in his misfortunes, sings duets with his lady, and renders himself so agreeable to her as to arouse the jealousy of her lord.  He gave a very finished reading of the barcarole of the second act, blending his head and chest voice beautifully, and had to repeat it in response to a warm encore.  He was also very effective in the long solo at the beginning of the third act describing the robber chief’s modus operandi with lords, lawyers, pilgrims, and ladies respectively.

'Signor Scolari’s picture of the Milord Anglais, who had fallen among thieves, was an amusing one.   While the traditional curl-papers appeared in the second act, the morning costume was quiet compared with what we used to see it; but we had an excellent and marvellously natural and consistent delineation of the other orthodox symptoms of the mild madness with which the natives of Britain are supposed to be afflicted.  His lady was creditably personated by Mdlle Ghiotti, and their duet in the first act was very effective.

'The sub-brigands, who contribute so largely to the interest of the story, looked their parts to the life; their Calabrese get-up was perfect; and there were some fine touches in the acting and by-play of Beppo, in whom the character of a robber and assassin is united with that of abject religious devotee.  An encore was as usual called forth by the scene where Giacomo and Beppo are imprudent in their cups to mimic the tone and repeat in falsetto the words of Zerlina, as overheard by them in her bedchamber.  The Lorenzo was the weakest part of the cast.

'The concerted music generally went well, as did the lively chorus of Carabineers, and the pifferari-like Easter chorus of the villagers.  The small orchestra did justice to the light music they had to play, and the scenery gave general satisfaction, particularly a scene among the snowy Alps of Switzerland, which, however good in its general effect, can only by a violent stretch of imagination suggest the environs of Terracina.

'This evening we are to have the event of the season, the production of Lohengrin.'

Performance Cast

Fra Diavolo a bandit chief

Emilio Naudin (Dec 15)

Lord Cockburn a British tourist

Signor Scolari (Dec 15)

Lady Pamela Cockburn

Mdlle Ghiotti (Dec 15)

Lorenzo an officer of carabiniers

Signor Filli (Dec 15)

Zerlina Matteo's daughter

Zaré Thalberg (Dec 15)

Giacomo a bandit

Signor Proni (Dec 15)

Beppo a bandit

Joseph Tagliafico (Dec 15)

Production Cast


S Manfredo Maggioni (Italian)

Performance DatesFra Diavolo 1875

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Queen's Theatre | Edinburgh

15 Dec, 20.00

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