La Pie Voleuse, ou La Servante de Palaiseau

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La Pie Voleuse, ou La Servante de Palaiseau ("The thieving magpie or the servant from Palaiseau") is a melodrama ("mélodrame historique" ) in 3 acts by by Louis-Charles Caigniez (1762-1842)[1] and Théodore Baudouin d'Aubigny (1786-1866)[2].

Also found simply as La Pie Voleuse

The original text

First performed in the Théâtre de la Porte St.-Martin on 29 April, 1815, and the text published by Barba (Paris) in 1815.

Translations and adaptations

The play appears to have been very popular and there appear to have been various other translations and adaptations of it around in the early 1800s, including:

The Magpie , or The Maid?

Translated and adapted as The Magpie , or The Maid? from the French by Isaac Pocock (1782–1835)[3] and first performed in September 15, 1815, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. It was first printed in 1815 by John Miller and a second edition appeared in 1816.

Also found under various other titles in the sources, including Magpie or the Maid, The Maid and the Magpie, or Who's the Thief!!!, The Maid and the Magpie, or Who is the Thief? and The Maid and the Magpie, or Which is the Thief?.

The Magpie, or The Maid of Palaiseau

There are two versions of the play called The Magpie; Or, the Maid of Palaiseau: one by Arnold, favoured by the comedian W. Oxberry (published in Boston by Wells and Lilly, 1822) and one attributed to Thomas Cooke (1782-1848), published by John Murray, 1815 - though this may simply have been the Pocock version.

La Gazza Ladra

La Gazza Ladra ("The Thieving Magpie") is a melodramma or opera semiseria in two acts by Gioachino Rossini, with a libretto by Giovanni Gherardini. Based on La Pie Voleuse, it was first performed at La Scala, Milan, on 31 May 1817. Published by Giacomo Pirola, 1823.

The Maid and the Magpie, or The Fatal Spoon!

The melodramma La Gazza Ladra was adapted as a "burlesque burletta" (in verse) called The Maid and the Magpie, or The Fatal Spoon! by Henry James Byron (1835–1884)[4]. (Also called The Maid and The Magpie Travestie in the text, and The Maid and the Magpie, or The Fatal Spoon by some sources.)

First performed on October 11, 1858 at the Strand Theatre, London. Published by Thomas Hailes Lacy in 1859.

Performance history in South Africa

Usually performed in one of the English versions, though one is not always sure which of the many versions of the text is the one performed in every case.

1832: Performed in English on 9 June 1832 by All the World's a Stage under the title The Maid and the Magpie, or Who's the Thief!!! (Pocock), announced as a "new domestic melodrama" by the company (Bosman, 1928: p221-2). It was accompanied by The Married Bachelor, or Master and Man (O'Callaghan) and Bombastes Furioso, or The King of Utopia (Rhodes).

1835: Performed in English as The Magpie, or The Maid? as a benefit performance for Mrs Westcott in the Cape Town on 8 October 1835 by the Garrison Players, with Love, Law and Physic (Kenney) as afterpiece.

1857: Performed as The Maid and the Magpie, or Which is the Thief? (Pocock) by Sefton Parry and company in the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, on 3 November. Also part of the programme were The Lottery Ticket (Beazley) and a performance on the "nautical hornpipe" by Mr Gough.

1860: Performed as the "burlesque burletta" The Maid and The Magpie, or The Fatal Spoon (Byron) in the Theatre Royal Cape Town by the Alfred Dramatic Club on 22 August and 15 September, with The Irish Tutor (Butler) and songs and dances by Miss Powell. Led by Sefton Parry, amateur company included the amateur comedian Murphy as well as the professional performers Mrs Parry, Mrs Delmaine and Miss Powell.

1867: Performed as a "burlesque" called simply The Maid and the Magpie, in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, by the Madame Duret and the Le Roy-Duret Company (of which she was the sole manager at the time) on 22 July. Also played was an unnamed farce.


Facsimile version of the French text of La Pie Voleuse, ou La Servante de Palaiseau, Bibliothèque Nationale de France [5]

Facsimile version of the original text of La Gazza Ladra, Google E-book[6]

Facsimile version of the 1859 text of The Maid and the Magpie, or The Fatal Spoon!, Google E-book[7]

Facsimile version of The Magpie, or The Maid, The Internet Archive[8]

Facsimile version of The Magpie; Or, the Maid of Palaiseau, The Internet Archive[9]

F.C.L. Bosman. 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [10]: pp.195, 221-2,

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.59, 64, 157, 227,

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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