"Fra Diavolo" by Daniel Auber and Eugène Scribe

Fra Diavolo, ou L'hôtellerie de Terracine (Fra Diavolo, or The Inn of Terracina) is an opéra comique in three acts by the French composer Daniel Auber, from a libretto by Auber's regular collaborator Eugène Scribe. It is loosely based on the life of the Itrani bandit Michele Pezza, active in southern Italy in the period 1800-1806, who went under the name of Fra Diavolo ("Brother Devil").

The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Ventadour in Paris on 28 January 1830 and an Italian version was prepared by Auber and Scribe for performance in London in 1857. This contained new recitatives and arias, as well as expanding the roles of Fra Diavolo's accomplices.

The opera was Auber's greatest success, one of the most popular works of the 19th century and was in the standard repertory in its original French as well as German and Italian versions. An English translation was also prepared. Hugh MacDonald has characterised this comic opera as "the most successful work of its kind before Offenbach".


Zerline, daughter of the innkeeper of Terracina, is in love with an impoverished soldier, Lorenzo, but her father wants her to marry the rich old Francesco. Lorenzo is in pursuit of the notorious bandit Fra Diavolo. Diavolo himself arrives at the inn disguised as a marquis and robs two English travellers, Lord and Lady Cockburn. Lorenzo manages to retrieve part of the stolen goods and is rewarded with enough money to marry Zerline. Diavolo is determined to rob the travellers again and enlists the help of his two comical henchmen, Giacomo and Beppo. During the night the three of them sneak into Zerline's room and steal her dowry. Lorenzo appears and mistakes the 'marquis' for a rival in love. The next day Zerline is forced to marry Francesco as she now no longer has her dowry. Diavolo instructs his henchmen to warn him when Lorenzo and his troop of soldiers have left the town so he can safely rob again, but the two are recognised in the crowd by Zerline and Diavolo is tricked into appearing and arrested when the signal is given as arranged. Zerline is free to marry Lorenzo again.


  • Fra Diavolo, (brother devil) a bandit: tenor
  • Zerline, daughter of Mathéo: soprano
  • Lord Cockburn, an English traveller: baritone
  • Lady Pamela, his wife: mezzo-soprano
  • Lorenzo, an officer of the guard: tenor
  • Giacomo, Fra Diavolo's accomplice: bass
  • Beppo, Fra Diavolo's accomplice: tenor
  • Mathéo, an innkeeper: bass
  • A Peasant: tenor
  • A Soldier: tenor
  • Francesco, the richest man in five miles: mute
  • Jean-Jacques, Lord Cockburn's servant: mute
  • John, Mathéo's servant: mute

Production History

Date Venue Company
May 19, 1890 Tivoli Opera
Apr 15, 1890 Baldwin Theater
Jan 28, 1830 Salle Ventadour
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