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“Bohemians”

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Gallagher, Miriam (Irish playwright, novelist, screenwriter, 1940-____), “Bohemians,” a 50-minute bare-stage comedic theatrical musical interlude in English, set in a soprano's mind, 1989 and 1800s,

2m1f

; • © 1989 by Miriam Gallagher; • in Miriam Gallagher’s Bohemians (Ranelagh, Dublin, Ireland: The Author, 1989); • script/rights available from Miriam Gallagher, 53 Upper Beechwood Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin 6. Ireland, e-mail mirager@indigo.ie, telephone (home/work/fax) Dublin (01-4976880; or available from Internet Theatre Bookshop http://www.stageplays.com. • Cited by Miriam Gallagher via ftp December 16, 2003; Gallagher says,

§ Dramatis Personae Balfe (m), an Irish composer, handsome, appealing, tetchy with rivals, ambitious; Wallace (m), an Irish-born flamboyant, reckless adventurer, womaniser; Zigeunerin (f), a hopeful soprano in search of fame.

§ Synopsis “Zigeunerin longs for someone worthwhile to make her an opera. Balfe and Wallace spring from their graves in Kensal Green and vie with each other to win the commission. To prove points each composer brings forth songs (sung by the cast) and recount tales of derring do, e.g., when Wallace was almost eaten by a tiger or when Balfe was taken to Italy by a count whose dead son he resembled. They relive the vicissitudes of theatrical life and their successes: The Bohemian Girl (Balfe) and Maritana (Wallace). Both composers chase after Zigeunerin, who has decided that both should write her an opera.

§ Comment “Easy to stage. No scene changes. Actors use minimal props. Highly comical and colourful joust. The idea is to cast actors who can sing. The piece is intended to flow and not as a stop-and-start ‘concert’ of songs. • Premiered 1989. Radio version broadcast by Rté. • Published in Miriam Gallagher’s Fancy Footwork: Selected Plays by Miriam Gallagher (Society of Irish Playwrights [formerly The Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters' Guild], 1991, 1997), ISBN 0953820009, 13 plays including 5 with small cast, like 'Dreamkeeper' and The Sealwoman and the Fisher'). • ‘A light hearted melee of music and drama celebrating the Irish composers Balfe and Wallace.’—Evening Herald. ‘Joycean soirée.’—Irish Times. • “William Vincent Wallace (composer) was Irish born. Actually he was born around the corner from myself in Waterford city and there's a plaque to prove it! His father was the leader of the regimental band, etc., but William was Irish born. There's a big statue going up to him outside the Theatre Royal in Waterford!"—Gallagher, December 18, 2003. • "[William Wallace’s] father, a Scottish-born regimental bandmaster, gave the young Wallace lessons on the piano and the clarinet and these which were later supplemented by violin and organ studies. By the time he reached his late teens he was already an accomplished violinist and pianist in Dublin, where he played in the orchestra at the Theatre Royal. In 1830 he secured a post as church organist in Thurles where he met and married Isabella Kelly, with whom he settled in Dublin before emigrating to Australia in late 1835. Within five years, though, he deserted his family in Sydney and is said to have complemented his earnings from music with stints at, among other things, sheep farming and whale hunting before heading further afield . . . [on] an odyssey which took him all the way from the Antipodes to South America. Back in Europe for a period of composing, including the completion of the music for Maritana, some of which had been in gestation since his time in Tasmania, and the beginning of Lureline (eventually finished in 1860), he was threatened by blindness and sent by his doctor back to South America for treatment. The following year . . . , he reached New York. In 1850 he became an American citizen and, in the same year, bigamously married the 23-year-old pianist Helen Stoepel. Returning again to Britain he settled in London . . . for another 20 years before ill health forced him to head for the Pyrenees, where he died in 1865.”—Composer, http://www.naxos.com/composer/btm.asp?fullname=Wallace,%20William%20Vincent, accessed December 16, 2003. • “[Michael William Balfe’s] gifts became apparent at an early age. . . . Between 1814 and 1815 he played the violin for his fathers dancing-classes, and at the age of seven composed a polacca. In 1817 he appeared as a violinist in public, and in this year composed a ballad . . . . On the death of his father in 1823 he was engaged in the orchestra of Drury Lane, and being in possession of a small but pleasant baritone voice, he chose the career of an operatic singer. . . . In 1825 he was taken to Rome by Count Mazzara, being introduced to Cherubini on the way. In Italy he wrote his first dramatic work, a ballet, La Perouse. . . . [In] Italy . . . during the next nine years, he remained, singing at various theatres and composing a number of operas. During this time he married Mdlle [sic] Luisa Roser, a Hungarian singer whom he had met at Bergamo. . . . [The] public indignation roused by an attempt at improving Meyerbeers opera Il Crociato by interpolated music of his own compelled Balfe to throw up his engagement at the theatre La Fenice in Venice. By this time he had produced his first complete opera, I Rivali di se stessi, at Palermo in the carnival season of 1829-1830; the opera Un Avvertimento ai gelosi at Pavia; and Enrico Quarto at Milan, where he had been engaged to sing with Malibran at the Scala. He returned to England in the spring of 1833, and on the 29th of October 1835 his Siege of Rochelle was produced and rapturously received at Drury Lane. . . . Balfe was a prolific composer . . . . Balfe also wrote several operas for the Opera Comique and Grand Opera in Paris . . . . His LEtoile de Seville was written in 1845 for the Acadamie [sic] Royale. The fact that Balfe was an Irishman, who produced operas in English, French and Italian with conspicuous success, is in itself interesting. When to this we add the record of his operatic impersonations on the stage, the European success of his Bohemian Girl, his picturesque retirement into Hertfordshire in 1864 as a gentleman farmer, and above all the undeniable gift for creating such pure melodies as his songs When other Hearts and I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls, it is idle to refuse him a prominent place in the history of music. He wrote much that was trivial, but also much that was enduring. . . . In 1882 a medallion portrait of him was unveiled in Westminster Abbey.”—MICHAEL WILLIAM BALFE, http://98.1911encyclopedia.org/B/BA/BALFE_MICHAEL_WILLIAM.htm, accessed December 16, 2003. • Research could include Michael W. Balfe (1808-70). Opera Singer and Composer, http://www.britishandirishworld.com/, accessed December 16, 2003.

§ Themes Balfe (Michael W. Balfe, Irish composer, May 15, 1808-1870), biography, educational theatre, Irish composers, light opera, Wallace (William Vincent Wallace, Irish-born violinist, organist, March 11, 1812-October 12, 1865).



See also Miriam Gallagher’s

  • "Carolan's Cap," a 45-minute bare-stage interlude with music in English; also, translated into Finnish by Tiina Ripatti, set in a convivial 'Big House', evening as he takes his nightcap of ale, 1738, 1m (+ musicians)
  • "Dreamkeeper," a 25-minute bare-stage drama in English, set in a wilderness, dawn-evening, 1984, 1m1f
  • "Kalahari Blues," a 20-minute comedy-drama in English, set in a run-down big house in an Irish town, day, 2001, 2m2f
  • "Nasturtiums and Cherry Buns," a 45-minute comedy-drama in English, set in a city centre café, a working day's duration, 2003, 3f
  • "Nocturne," a 45-minute bare-stage impressionistic theatrical musical interlude in English; also, translated into Russian by Sonya Polyaninkina, set in a salon, Russia, evening, 1987, 1m1f (+ pianist)
  • "The Sealwoman and the Fisher," a 25-minute bare-stage play for dancers in English; also, translated into Erse (Irish Gaelic) by Margaret Birmingham, set in Sea Shore, Church, Fisher's house, day, moonlit night, 1984, 1m1f (+ chorus 1m2f, dancer)

This Website continues under construction and welcomes new citations and comments.

Page mounted December 17, 2003, and updated December 18, 2003, by the Webmaster.

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