The Waterman, or The First of August

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The Waterman, or The First of August is a ballad opera, in two acts by Charles Dibdin (1745-1814)[1].

The original text

First performed at the Theatre-Royal, Haymarket. Published in London by London by T. Becket, 1774.

Translations and adaptations

Adapted as a one-act opera, simply named The Waterman, edited and arranged by William Young (1847-1920)[2] and Florian Pascal (1847-1923)[3].

Performance history in South Africa

1812: Performed in the African Theatre, Cape Town on 7 September by the Garrison Players, with The Poor Gentleman (Colman Jr).

1862: Performed as by Sefton Parry and his company in the Theatre Royal, Cape Town, on 4 April, with The Honeymoon (Tobin). The evening a benefit for James Leffler. The piece is described as a "Comic Opera" containing a number of songs, but Bosman (1980: footnote on p. 112) wonders whether this may not in fact have been the shorter version by Young and Pascal.

1866: Performed by the Le Roy-Duret Company in the Harrington Street Theatre, Cape Town, on 12 July, with The Queen of the Abruzzi (Coyne) as afterpiece and the Sailor's Hornpipe played by Herr Luin.

1868: Performed by the Le Roy and Duret company in the Commercial Exchange, Cape Town, on 3 February, with The Loan of a Lover (Planché) and songs by D'Arcy Read and Mr Toogood. The evening a benefit for Elsie Sidney and D'Arcy Read.

1870: Performed by the Young Men's Institute and Club Dramatic Company, Cape Town, on 2 September with The Scholar (Buckstone), as a benefit evening for Miss De Courtney.

1875: Performed as The Waterman (and seemingly ascribed to "Chas. Dickens") by Disney Roebuck and his company in the Bijou Theatre, Cape Town, on 24 and 25 May, with La Somnambula (Moncrieffe) and scenes from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. The evening of the 24th was a "Regatta Night" under the patronage of the Regatta & Table Bay Rowing Club.


"The waterman: or, the first of August: a ballad opera, in two acts. As it is performed at the Theatre-Royal, Hay-Market", Great Writers Inspire[4].,if%20scarcely%20very%20individual%20style.

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel I: 1652-1855. Pretoria: J.H. de Bussy. [5]: pp. 143, 173-4

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.112, 115, 211, 232, 236, 276, 324, 339

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