Die Spanier in Peru oder Rollas Tod

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("The Spanish in Peru, or The death of Rolla") A German tragedy in five acts by August von Kotzebue, 1761-1819

The original text

Described as "Ein romantisches Trauerspiel in fünf Aufzügen", the play was first performed in 1795 and published Leipzig, 1796.

It was a sequel to his earlier five act play Die Sonnenjungfrau ("The Sunmaiden" in English, "Die Sonnenmaagd" in Dutch), the play which first featured Kotzebue's hero Rolla. (First performed in the Liebhabertheater at Reval on 19 December, 1789 and published in Leipzig in 1791.

Translations and adaptations

It has been translated many times and into many languages.

Into English

There are a number of English translations of the play, two appearing in the 1790s, alongside an adaptation by Sheridan. The titles also vary considerably, according to the translator. E.g. The Spaniards in Peru; or, The death of Rolla (by Anne Plumtre, performed and published 1799?*), Pizarro in Peru, or, The death of Rolla (by William Dunlap, published 1800, , or in later editions as Pizarro, or The Death of Rolla.

The most famous English version of the play though, and a huge commercial success for the adaptor, is Pizarro , a melodramatic adaptation by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, performed at the Drury Lane theatre and published under the title in 1799.

Into Dutch

Translated into Dutch as De Spanjaarden in Peru, of De Dood van Rolla by J S van Esveldt Holtrop. Alternately also written De Spanjarden in Peru, of De Dood van Rolla and published in Amsterdam by J. Doll in 1796. Sometimes the play only called De Dood van Rolla,

F.C.L. Bosman (1928: p. 276) cites a newspaper article in which the Cape Town producer C.E. Boniface seeks to buy play texts for production, including one he lists as Ubaldo, of De Dood van Rolla by August von Kotzbue and translated by J S van Esveldt Holtrop. However this is surely a misreading, and what is clearly meant is that Boniface was seeking a text for either Ubaldo (1808) or for De Dood van Rolla (1796) - two totally unrelated plays by Von Kotzebue, both translated into Dutch by J S van Esveldt Holtrop.

Performance history in South Africa

1829: Performed in Cape Town in English as Pizarro by H. Booth and local amateurs on 10 November, with as an afterpiece Black-Eyed Susan (Jerrold).

1835: Performed on 16 May as Pizarro in the Kaapsche Liefhebbery Theater ("The Cape Amateur Theatre") by the Dutch amateur company Vlyt en Kunst, most probably in Dutch, (though Bosman lists only the English title in his Index.) The accompanying piece is Jérome Pointu by Beaunoir - wrongly attributed to "D'Orvigny" (="Dorvigny") by the company (see Bosman, 1928:p333), for some reason.

1835: Repeated on 13 June as Pizarro in the Kaapsche Liefhebbery Theater ("The Cape Amateur Theatre") by the Dutch amateur company Vlyt en Kunst, again most probably in Dutch. The accompanying piece is Warren's Blacking, 30 Strand (translated from the English by "an Amateur")



Facsimile version of the text of Die Sonnenjungfrau[1]

Facsimile version of the text of De Spanjaarden in Peru [2]

John Philip Kemble promptbooks, Volume 1, The Folger facsimiles[3]

Facsimile version of the text of Pizarro by Sheridan, Google Books[4]

F.C.L. Bosman, 1928: pp. 333-4,

Go to ESAT Bibliography

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