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A bare stage, showing either the actual back wall or a representation of it. Scenes in the dressing room take place in abstract space, or by employing a truck with dressing room furniture. When performed in a theatre without a proscenium arch, there are sufficient references in the script to the beauty of the San Carlo to allow the audience to use their imagination.


The British officers, Captain Mander and Lieutenant Brown, wear army battledress appropriate to their ranks and the period (1943) as do the enlisted men: Wilks, Brightwell and Owen. All except Mander appear in typical, if not exaggeratedly comic, 19th century opera costumes at various points in Act Two.

Salvatore wears the same costume throughout: black trousers, open-necked white shirt and an unbuttoned waistcoat, like a pit musician who has removed his jacket and tie.

Fabio/Fabia looks as much like a boy as it is possible to make him/her - an urchin look. She, Deborah and Mariangela also wear 19th century costumes at the end of the play. In Act One all three of them wear clothing typical of the period but showing signs of wartime privations.

Lucia wears exquisite clothes but it is clear that, like their owner, they are a little out of date and past their best. In Act Two she wears a glorious operatic costume of the 19th century.

O'Leary wears a kilt and tam o'shanter in Act One, the costume of an American army major in Act Two, reappearing in his kilt, or a ghostly version of it, at the end of the play.

In addition to the piano/vocal score, two orchestrations are available:

  • 5 players: piano, bass, guitar, percussion and violin
  • 11 players: piano, bass, guitar, percussion, two reeds (flute and clarinet doubling on sax), trumpet, trombone and three strings: two violins, and cello

Cast (11)

Salvatore (bass)
50-ish, a violinist (ideally who plays).

Fabio/Fabia (belt range)
17, apparently a mute, actually a girl masquerading as a boy.

Captain Brian Mander (tenor)
Early 30s, the senior British officer.

Lieutenant Michael Brown (baritone)
Late 30s, Mander’s deputy.

Private Tom Wilks (high baritone/tenor)
About 18, a handsome, naïve cockney dreamer.
Also plays Male Singer.

Private Donald Brightwell (tenor)
Early 20s, cheeky and confident, a Scot.

Corporal Fred Owen (baritone)
Early 20s, willing but stubborn and not very bright, a Yorkshireman. Plays thepiano.

Lucia Tivolini (soprano)
Mid 40s, a former star of the San Carlo.

Deborah (soprano)
18, Lucia’s daughter. Also plays Female Singer

Mariangela (mezzo soprano)
40-ish, wardrobe mistress and dresser to Lucia.

Major Carl O’Leary (high baritone)
Mid 30s, an American soldier.