The original text
The Italian libretto was largely written by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El Trovador (1836), , a flamboyant and incident filled melodrama by Antonio García Gutiérrez (1813-1884). The opera had its premiere at the Teatro Apollo in Rome on 19 January 1853.
Translations and adaptations
Burlesque versions of Italian, French - and, later, German - operas became popular with London audiences during the second half of the 19th century.
For example Verdi's Il Trovatore had its British premiere in 1855 in burlesque form as Ill-treated Il Trovatore (or also found as Ill Treated Il Trovatore, or The Mother, The Maiden and The Musician ) by H.J. Byron (1835-1884). The text was published by T.H. Lacy in the 1850s.
Another burlesque version of the opera (or possibly of Byron's version?) was apparently done by the Christy Minstrels (simply billed as Il Trovatore) in the 1860s, also performed during their South African visit in 1862.
South African performances of the Verdi opera
1875: Performed as part of the repertoire of the Harvey-Turner Opera Company when it visited the goldfields in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The other works listed include Faust, Maritana, The Bohemian Girl, Lobgesang and Stabat Mater.
1899: Performed and taken on a tour the South African cities and towns by the visiting Arthur Rousbey Grand English Opera Company, under the management of Frank de Jong and Herbert Flemming, appearing in Cape Town's Opera House in the second half of the year.
Performances of dramatic adaptations and burlesque versions in South Africa
1878: A "Burlesque Extravaganza" called Ill Treated Il Trovatore, or The Mother, The Maiden and The Musician (Byron) performed in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 18 March by Disney Roebuck and his company, as afterpiece to The Lyons Mail (Moreau, Siraudin and Delacour/Reade), along with a "dance on the High Pedestal" by the The Kickapoos Kickapoos and the one act play A Phenomenon in a Smock Frock (Brough).
Steven Huebner (Ed). 2017. National Traditions in Nineteenth-Century Opera, Volume I: Italy, France, England and the Americas (Volume 1), Routledge.
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