Giralda, ou La Nouvelle Psyché

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Giralda, ou La Nouvelle Psyché ("Giralda, or the new Psyche") is an opéra comique[1] in three acts by Eugène Scribe (1791-1861)[2], with music by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856)[3].

The original text

An opera about the involvement of the Queen of Spain and the Prince of Aragon in solving the dilemma of Giralda, set to marry Ginès, a miller, but in love with the Knight Don Manoël. The French piece had its first performance at the Opéra-Comique theatre, Paris, on 20 July 1850 to great success. It remained in the repertoire of European theatres for many years. The text and music was published in Paris by Lagny in 1850 and in Brussels by Lelong in 1850. Another edition by Brandus (Paris) appeared in 1852.

Translations and adaptations

In what seems a somewhat confusing fashion, it was apparently simultaniously presented in English in London in at least three versions:

As Giralda, or The Invisible Husband, adapted as a comic drama in three acts, by Henry Welstead (fl. 1850s) and first performed at the Royal Olympic Theatre, on Thursday, September 12, 1850. Published in London by Thomas Hailes Lacy in 1850.

As Giralda, or the Miller's Wife adapted by Benjamin Webster (1797-1882)[4] and performed at the Haymarket Theatre in London in 1850.

As Giralda, or Which Is My Husband? a comic drama in three acts by Mrs. F.A. Davidson (fl 1850s), and - for good measure - produced at the Theatres Royal in London (apparently including both the Haymarket and the Olympic) in 1850. Originally published by Cumberland, then re-issued by G.H. Davidson in the same year.

Some sources claim that a version (under two titles it appears, Giralda, or The Invisible Husband and Giralda, or the Miller's Wife) was done by Dion Boucicault (1820-1890)[5]. Nicoll (1975) suggests that Webster and Boucicault may have been co-authors on the latter text, which was later revised as A Dark Night's Work, when performed at the Princess's Theatre, London on 7 March, 1870.

Translated into German as Giralda, oder Die neue Psyche by W. Friedrich (ca. 1820-1879)[].

Performance history in South Africa

1861: Performed as Giralda, or The Invisible Husband (ascribed to Welstead) by the Sefton Parry and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 18 May, with a dance (Pas de Matlots) by Miss Powell, a popular ballad sung by Leffler and Mischiefmaking (Buckstone). The piece apparently caused some consternation and resistance among Cape Town citizens because of its perceived "licentiousness", in the text and the vulgarity of the performances.


Facsimile version of the Welstead text of 1850, Warwick Digital Collections [6]

Facsimile version of the Webster text (1856 edition), Hathi Trust Digital Library[7]

Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900: Late 19th Century Drama 1850-1900 Cambridge University Press: p.267[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 1932. (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. 97, 103-4, 174

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