Le Droit d'Aînesse

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Le Droit d'Aînesse ("The Birthright") is a French opéra bouffe[1] in three acts by composer Francis Chassaigne (1847-1922)[2] with a French libretto by Eugène Leterrier (1843-1884)[3] and Albert Vanloo (1846-1920)[4].

(In French the title would normally be written Le droit d'aînesse. The composer is also known as "François Chassaigne" or " Francisque Chassaigne".)

The original text

The French original text was published in Paris by E. Gérard in 1880[5] and it premiered on 27 January 1883, at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris.[6]

Translations and adaptations

The English-language version of the libretto, titled Falka (after the name of the principal female character), was translated and adapted by Henry Brougham Farnie (1836–1889)[7].

Falka premiered at the Royal Comedy Theatre, London on 29 October 1883, at the Casino Theatre, New York, in 1884 and was followed by productions throughout the English-speaking world.

Performance history in South Africa

1889: Falka, the comic opera, was staged at the Globe Theatre in Johannesburg. Produced by Mr Perkins of The Edgar Perkins Lyric Opera Company. Starring Frank Wheeler as Governor Folback, Amy Fenton as Falka, the convent girl, R.S. Gregg as Falka's student lover, Mr Paxton as Boleslas, the brigand chief, Minnie Rayner as Edwige, the fiery Gipsey girl and sister of the brigand chief, Mr H Leighton as Tancred, nephew of Governor Folback, Miss E Bankhardt as Janotha. James Hyde was the musical director.

1890: Performed in the Exhibition Theatre, Cape Town, in January by The Edgar Perkins Lyric Opera Company , an opera company managed and directed by Edgar Perkins. The company included R.S. Gregg, E. le Hay, Dennis Coyne, Frank Wheeler, Harry Miller, Ada Bemister, Carrie Nelson, Harriet Wood, and Ella Bankhardt. The musical direction was by James Hyde.

Thursday, October 11, 1900; Performed by the Port Elizabeth Amateur Operatic Club at the Port Elizabeth Opera House. Directed by H.B. Binstead.

1902-3: Performed by the Mouillot-De Jong Company, at the Opera House, Cape Town, as part of a season of musical comedy and light opera beginning in December of 1902 and running into 1903.


Eastern Province Herald, October 5, 1900.

Cecil A. Smith and Glenn Litton. 1987. Musical Comedy in America: From The Black Crook to South Pacific, From The King & I to Sweeney Todd. Routledge (reprinted 2013)[8]









D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 389-390, 413.

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