The story is principally a 'Manon Lescaut' plot set
in the time of Louis XV in which a girl
in love is poached by a rich Marquis. Fate decrees that the lovers end their days in the wastes of the
desert, until an unexpected rescue comes.
is searching for his lost love Isoline,
whom the Marquis has designs on,
but he is tricked by Sans Regret
into enlisting. Sans regret tells
the Marquis about this new recruit
and his connection to Isoline to
whom the Marquis shows Jules' enlistment
paper so that she knows that Jules
is in his power. Jules attempts
to escape and find Isoline but is
eventually captured and sent off
to prison in Africa.
Act 2, the scene switches to the
prison in Africa, where a new governor,
the Marquis, arrives accompanied
by several people including Isoline. She
recognises Jules and the two escape
out into the desert. Resigned to die of thirst they hear the distant sounds of a band and a
procession of the Marquis and his retinue appears on the horizon. The couple
are rescued and pardoned by the Marquis
and the opera ends
Isoline singing of her rapture.
original cast of The Maid of Artois was a distinguished
gathering of popular singers of the time, all in their twenties and thirties:
Maria Malibran (contralto), Isoline, was born in Paris and went to Italy
where she studied, spoke a number of languages, well known at the the Paris
Opéra (where she met Balfe) and at La Scala, Milan. She first came to Drury
Lane in 1834 when 26 to star in the first English La
Sonnambula and Fidelio.
John Templeton (tenor) from Scotland was 34 when he appeared as Jules de Montangon.
He had made his debut with Malibran in La Sonnambula
at Drury Lane in 1834.
Henry Phillips (baritone) was Bristol born and 35 when he appeared as the Marquis.
With theatrical parents he was noted for Handelian solos and played Caspar when
Der Freischutz opened in
London in 1824. He manipulated composers by demanding a ballad for his part
so it could be sold separately to promote his name.
Arthur Seguin (bass), Synnelet, an Irish Londoner trained at the Royal
Academy of Music and was noted for his wide compass, making a name when singing
at Govern Garden in their 1833-4 season. He joined Drury Lane for Balfe's The
Siege of Rochelle the previous year when aged 26.
Hatton (Officer of the Guard) was a 26 year old Liverpudlian singer and
self-taught composer who arrived in London in 1832. He went on the supply Drury
Lane with an operetta, The Queen of the Thames,
Elizabeth Poole (soprano), the youngest of the company (aged 16), came to Drury
Lane in 1834 when she took a minor Page role in Gustavus
in 1834 and went on to sing regularly in English opera and give recitals. It
is likely she sang in The Siege of Rochelle
which followed Gustavus.
© Victorian Opera
Northwest, 2005 - 2010.