The Rows of Castille

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The Rows of Castille is a burlesque by Conrad Theodore Marriott Edwardes (fl. 1870-1877)[].

Also found as The Rows of Castile.

The original text

The Rows of Castille was originally performed in Brighton, England, on 4 March, 1872. It does not appear to have been performed much afterwards (except by Disney Roebuck's company apparently) and the text was not published as far as can be ascertained.

It was a burlesque of The Rose of Castille (or The Rose of Castile), an opera in three acts, with music by Michael William Balfe, to an English-language libretto by Augustus Glossop Harris and Edmund Falconer, after the libretto by Adolphe d'Ennery and Clairville (alias of Louis-François Nicolaïe (1811–1879)) for Adolphe Adam's Le muletier de Tolède (1854). It was premiered on 29 October 1857, at the Lyceum Theatre, London.

The playful title of the burlesque probably derives from the fact that the opera itself was at the time of its first performance often referred to as "Rows of Cast Steel" and would become the subject of a punning riddle about Balfe's successful opera. The riddle first started circulating about six years after the opera's first performance (i.e. "Question: What opera is like a railway line (or tramway line)? Answer: Rows of Cast steel"), but was later made famous by James Joyce's use of it in a scene in Ullyses[1], and in some ways has become more enduring than Edwardes's the play.

Translations and adaptations

In his advertising for his first performance of the work in South Africa, Disney Roebuck credits C. Edwardes as the author, but claims that it was a "burlesque written expressly for.. [his].. company". This may be so, or it may also have been an adaptation of Edwardes's play for the company.

Performance history in South Africa

1875: Performed in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, by Disney Roebuck and company on 25 March, and billed as a "burlesque written expressly for this Co.". It was played as an afterpiece to David Garrick (Robertson).

1875: Performed by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, on 1 April, with East Lynne (Wood).


Allardyce Nicoll. 1975. A History of English Drama 1660-1900: Late 19th Century Drama 1850-1900 Cambridge University Press: p.354[2]

William Adams. 1891. A Book of Burlesque: Sketches of English Stage Travestie and Parody (Issue 5 of The Whitefriars Library of Wit and Humour, Vol. V). Henry and Company[3]

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

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