The original text
The play tells of the complications ensuing when the excessively puritanical heroine believes herself duty-bound to marry an unknown man who, in rescuing her from a serious fall in the Pyrenees, has been unable to avoid seeing the exposed lower half of her body.
It was first performed in French at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens on 12 November 1890, and became immensely popular with Parisian audiences, being performed a staggering 816 times. Many productions would follow in continental Europe, Britain, the US, South Africa and Australia between 1891 and 1896.
Translations and adaptations
Originally adapted into little less raunchy English version as Miss Decima by F.C. Burnand (1836-1917), with lyrics by Percy Reeve (1855-??). It was first produced at the Criterion Theatre, London, on 23 July 1891. In New York it opened under the original title of Miss Helyett at the Star Theatre on 3 November, 1891, in a new production by David Belasco (1853-1931).
Performance history in South Africa
1894: Performed in Burnand's English version as Miss Decima in the second half of the year by the Cairns James Company as part of their season in the Good Hope Theatre, Cape Town, under the auspices of the Wheeler Theatre Company.
Richard Traubner. 2004. Operetta: A Theatrical History. Routledge: p.90
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