Note on Versions

The libretto displayed on this site follows G. Schirmer's 1902 vocal score. To the best of my knowledge, the Schirmer edition follows the complete opera as originally written by Balfe.

In 1915 Novello published a reduced version edited by Emil Kreuz, titled "concert and acting edition". The Kreuz edition consists of four scenes only, corresponding to the first, third and fourth scenes in the original act two, along with the original act three. The Kreuz edition omits the original first act and the second scene of the second act.

In a preface to the edition Mr Kreuz writes, "In preparing this edition, act one, being in the nature of a prologue, has been omitted, the usual cuts have been adopted, and a few numbers that are not absolutely necessary to the continuation of the plot have been dispensed with. All the finer numbers have been retained, and as much work as possible given to the chorus. [...] It is hoped that choral and operatic societies will find in this simplified and condensed edition a useful addition to their repertory, and that it will be found to give an effectual fillip to the growing appreciation of stage-representations of classic works by enthusiastic amateurs."

In the libretto displayed here, differences in the Kreuz edition are noted in brackets. They are as follows:


1. "The Bohemian Girl". The name of the opera is misleading, since the supposed title character is not Bohemian in any way. Rather, she is an Austrian who has been raised as a gypsy, so a better name for the opera would be "The Gypsy Girl". The actual title derives from a mistranslation of the French term "bohémienne", which in fact means "gypsy girl".

The most immediate source of Bunn's libretto is a French libretto by the Marquis de Saint-Georges, titled "La Bohémienne". Saint-Georges's ballet based on the same story was titled "La Gipsy". The original source (from which this libretto deviates considerably) is a short story by Cervantes, titled "La Gitanella", part of his collection of "Novelas Exemplares". Presumably even that story is not original with Cervantes; most likely he drew from an earlier oral tradition. [Go back.]

2. Some sources (including Kobbé) label Count Arnheim a bass; both the Schirmer and Novello scores list the Count as a baritone. In my opinion the part is better suited for a lyric bass (basso cantante). [Go back.]

3. Some sources (including Kobbé) label the Queen of the Gypsies an alto or contralto; both the Schirmer and Novello scores list the Queen as a soprano. In the duet which closes the first scene of Act Two ("It is thy deed"), the Queen is called upon to sing several high notes (including a high C). In ensembles, the Queen sings the alto part. Her original aria ("Bliss for ever past") and the replacement aria ("Love smiles but to deceive") both seem to me best suited for a lyric mezzo-soprano. [Go back.]

4. In the character list included in the Schirmer score, Buda and the Officer are both labeled with voice parts. Neither of them, however, is called upon to sing in the opera. Both are speaking roles only, though they may be members of the chorus. (But parts are in act one, and thus are not included in the Kreuz edition.) [Go back.]

5. The Captain of the Guard has only one solo line, but his part in one of the ensembles ("To the hall") is written separately and doesn't exactly match any of the chorus parts. In the character list included in the Schirmer score, the Captain is labeled "bass", but the aforementioned ensemble line is better suited to a baritone. (The Captain's part is cut in the Kreuz edition.) The Captain may be a member of the chorus. [Go back.]

The Bohemian Girl: Index | Characters | Act I | Act II, scene 1 2 3 4 | Act III | Footnotes

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February 19, 1999