Cover to vocal scoreTHE BOHEMIAN GIRL

Opera in 3 acts. Music by Michael Balfe. Text by Alfred Bunn, based on a story by Cervantes as used in the ballet La Gypsy by Vernoy de Saint-Georges.
First performance: London - Drury Lane - November 27, 1843.
Revived Sadler's Wells (1932), Covent Garden Company in Liverpool 1951 and then at Covent Garden in a new version by Dennis Arundell.

The lilting, memorable melodies and generally uncomplicated score pleased the opera-going public of the day. The opera was a success and created a craze for gypsy songs, novels and art. According to Kobbé's Complete Book of Opera, there are no subtleties in the libretto but the action of the piece is vigorous and as remote from everyday life as one could well imagine. The chief characters are either noblemen or gypsies - noblemen who have the power of life and death over people, and gypsies who may rob and cheat but also number amongst there companion beings as innocent and pure as the hero and heroines of the story. 

The action takes place at Presburg in Poland.


Act 1

Count Arnheim, loyal to the Austrian Empire, entertains certain guests at his castle, where they raise the National Standard above the Emperor's statue, the Count meanwhile extolling a soldier's life. The guests depart for the chase without him. His daughter, Arline, a child six years old, accompanying them with her nurse.

Thaddeus, an exiled Polish rebel, enters seeking refuge, which he finds in the company of a tribe of passing gipsies, who disguise him by order of their leader, Devilshoof, just in time to escape his pursuers. The huntsmen, with Florestein, a foolish nephew of Count Arnheim, return in terror with the tidings that Arline is attacked by a stag; Thaddeus rushes to her assistance, and restores her unhurt to the Count, whose gratitude induces him to invite the apparent gipsy to join the feast of rejoicing. At this feast Arnheim proposes the Emperor's health, which is declined boldly by Thaddeus, whose life is in danger for this act, but he is protected by the Count; Devilshoof, however, who has shared the republican enthusiasm of Thaddeus, is arrested and confined in the castle. He escapes, and is seen by the distracted company bearing away in his arms Arline, whose abduction suggests his revenge.

Act 2

Twelve years have been past in sorrow by the Count; the gipsies are stationed at Presburg ready for a fair, led still by Devilshoof, who catches and robs Florestein, an incautious intruder; the Gipsy Queen, however, commands the restoration of his property; Devilshoof obeys, but reserves a diamond medallion for himself. Arline, reared among the gipsies and tended gently by Thaddeus, wakes from a sleep, and relates a strange dream, which Thaddeus knows is retrospective. She asks the history of her birth, which he hesitates to relate fearing lest her love should leave him. The Gipsy Queen who also loves Thaddeus now irritates Arline into jealousy, whereupon Thaddeus implores her to marry him. Their betrothal is witnessed by the tribe, who now set out for the fair. Here Arline attracts hosts of admirers, amongst them Florestein, who recognises his medallion on Arline's neck, where it has been cunningly placed by the Gipsy Queen. In spite of Thaddeus and the tribe, she is seized and conveyed to the Count's castle. Here an accident reveals to the father that the prisoner is his child.

Act 3

Thaddeus implores Arline in a secret interview not to desert him, but the Count spurns the supposed vagabond; when Thaddeus declares himself, and Arnheim is induced to give his daughter to the noble exile. At the feast in their honour, the Gipsy Queen with Devilshoof attempts Arline's life, but the gipsy diverts the shot which strikes her who aimed it. The festival proceeds to commemorate the happy fortunes of The Bohemian Girl.


Arline, daughter of the Count -Soprano
Thaddeus, a proscribed Pole - Tenor
Queen of the Gypsies - Alto
Devilshoof, chief of the gypsies - Bass
Count Arnheim, Governor of Presburg - Bass
Florestein, his nephew - Tenor
Captain of the Guard - Bass
Officer - Tenor
Buda, Arline's attendant - Soprano


"'Tis Sad To Leave Your Fatherland" - Thaddeus
"In the Gypsies Life You Lead" - Chorus
"I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls" - Arline
"The Heart Bowed Down" - Thaddeus and Arline
"When Other Lips and Other Hearts" - Thaddeus


  2. INTRODUCTORY CHORUS .. .. .. "Up with the banner"
  3. AIR (THE COUNT) .. .. .. "A soldier's life"
  4. CHORUS OF HUNTERS " Away to the hill and glen"
  6. RECITATIVE AND AIR (THADDEUS) .. "Without friends"
  7. GIPSY CHORUS .. .. .. "In the gipsy's life you read"
  9. DUET (THADDEUS & DEVILSHOOF) WITH CHORUS " Comrade, your hand”
  11. AIR (FLORESTEIN) .. .. .. .. " Is no succour near?"
  13. WALTZ
  14. CHORUS .. .. .. .. "Down with the daring slave"
  15. GALOP
  16. FINALE CHORUS .. .. .. .. "What sounds break on the ear!"
  17. PRAYER .. .. .. " Thou who in might supreme "
  18. CHORUS .. .. .. .. "Follow with heart and with arm"


  1. INTRODUCTORY CHORUS .. .. .. " Silence!"
  2. THE DREAM .. .. .. .. " I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls"
  3. DUET (ARLINE AND THADDEUS) .. .. " The wound upon thine arm "
  4. RECITATIVE (ARLINE) AND CHORUS " Listen while I relate " / Happy and light of heart"
  5. CHORUS.. .. .. .. .. .. " In the gipsy's life"
  6. DUET (QUEEN AND DEVILSHOOF) .. .. " This is thy deed!"
  7. SONG (ARLINE) WITH CHORUS .. .. "In the gipsy's life"
  8. MARCH
  9. FAIR SCENE — CHORUS .. .. .. "Life itself is at the best"
  10. QUARTETT (ARLINE, QUEEN, THADDEUS, AND DEVILSHOOF) .. "From the valleys and hills"
  12. CHORUS .. .. .. .. .. " Shame!"
  13. RECITATIVE AND AIR (COUNT) .. " Whate'er the scenes" / "The heart bow'd down"
  14. FINALE .. .... .. .. .. "Hold ! hold!"


  3. AIR (THADDEUS) .. .. .. .. .. " When other lips"
  4. TRIO (ARLINE, THADDEUS, AND DEVILSHOOF) .. "Through the world"
  5. FINALE—CHORUS .. .. .. .. " Welcome the present!"
  7. AIR (THADDEUS). .. .. .. .. " When the fair land of Poland "
  8. TRIO (ARLINE, THADDEUS, AND COUNT) .. " Let not the heart for sorrows grieve "
  9. FINAL AIR (ARLINE) AND CHORUS .. .. " Oh, what full delight "

Additional Number

AIR .. .. .. .. " Love smiles but to deceive" . .


Complete opera - Decca 2-CD 473 077-2