Maritana
  • (William) Vincent Wallace. Grand opera in three acts. 1845.
  • Libretto by Edward Fitzball, after the play Don César de Bazan by Adolphe Philippe d’Ennery and Philippe François Pinel Dumanoir.
  • First performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on 15th November 1845.
CHARACTERS
Maritana, a handsome gypsy girl soprano
Don Caesar de Bazan, an impoverished nobleman tenor
Don José de Santarem, a courtier baritone
Lazarillo, a poor boy mezzo-soprano
Marchioness of Montefiore mezzo-soprano
Captain of the Guard baritone
Marquis of Montefiore bass
Charles II, King of Spain bass
The Alcalde bass

Don José seeks to further his designs on the Queen of Spain by helping the King in his pursuit of the gypsy street-singer Maritana. Don Caesar returns to Madrid and, although duelling is now a capital offence to be rewarded by hanging, challenges a Captain of the Guard to a duel, in order to help the escape of an apprentice boy, Lazarillo. In prison Don José offers Don Caesar the chance of being shot rather than hanged, if he will marry a veiled woman, before his execution. He hopes by this to give the King access to Maritana. In the event Lazarillo has taken the bullets out of the guns of the firing-squad and Don Caesar escapes, now eager to find his mysterious bride. He had, in fact, been pardoned by the King, but Don José had prevented the delivery of the message. Maritana has been taken to the Marquis of Montefiore’s castle, but will not hear the King’s protestations, having fallen in love with Don Caesar. He now appears and would sign away his rights, when confronted by the aging Marchioness, who has taken Maritana’s place, but soon recognises his true bride. The third act brings Don Caesar face to face with the King and allows misunderstandings to be put right. Don José is killed, when he brings the Queen to see the infidelity of the King that he has abetted, and Don Caesar is now united with Maritana.

Maritana won wide success, both in English and in an Italian translation. Don Caesar’s Yes, let me like a soldier fall, in which he welcomes shooting rather than hanging, was once in popular drawing-room repertoire and the opera has recently been revived.