La Fille du Tambour-major

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La Fille du Tambour-major ("The Drum-Major's Daughter") is an opéra comique in three acts by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)[1], with a French libretto by Alfred Duru (1829-1889)[2] and Henri Chivot (1830-1897)[3].

The original text

The jingoistic plot is set during the Austrian occupation of Italy after Napoleon invaded Lombardy in 1806. A company of French soldiers, led by Lieutenant Robert, crossed the Alps and invaded a convent but the only occupant is a young girl, Stella, who was in penitence and was believed to be the daughter of Duke Della Volta. Stella fell in love with Robert, but her father had promised her hand to Bambini, an ineffectual old marquis. However, Robert received the news that Stella was not the daughter of the duke, but of a French drum-major. The production was successful overseas and ran for 240 performances in its initial form.

First performed at the Théâtre des Folies-Dramatiques, Paris, on 13 December, 1879.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

April 24-25, 1876: Performed in Port Elizabeth by Captain Disney Roebuck's Company.

1903: Performed as La Fille du Tambour Major on tour in South Africa by the Royal Australian Opera Company under the management of the Wheeler Company from May to October. Among the performers were Dan O'Connor and Gertie Campion. The itinerary included the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town (in May) and His Majesty's Theatre, Johannesburg (from 11 July to some time in October)


D.C. Boonzaier. 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1923. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p. 414.

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