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Written by H. B. FARNIE, based on OFFENBACH's Le Violoneau

First produced at the Lyceum Theatre on 2 May 1870.

No printed libretto in British Library. Vocal score published 1872 by J. Williams, copy in British Library at F 155/1.

Copy of libretto in Lord Chamberlain's collection. Add MS 53085, play no. L. The license copy is a printed edition of the score (containing also the full spoken dialogue) entitled The Chelsea Pensioner, the title altered in ink to The Breaking of the Spell, subsequently altered again to the final title by striking out the extra words.

Revived at the Gaiety for one matinee performance 6 April 1891 with the cast:

OLD MATTHEW, a Chelsea Pensioner E.H. Haslem (bar)
PETER BLOOM, a gardener Fred Wood (tenor)
JENNY WOOD, Maid of the Inn Alice Aynsley Cook (sop)

Revived Garrick Theatre from 26 April to 13 May 1904 (18 performances) with the cast:

OLD MATTHEW, a Chelsea Pensioner Arthur Chesney
PETER BLOOM, a gardener Henry Castleman
JENNY WOOD, Maid of the Inn Alice de Lucie

Played on tour alternating with Trial by Jury as curtain raiser to The Sorcerer from 9th March to 10th August 1878. Cast: Furneaux Cook, Wilfred Esmond and Clara Jecks.


Peter has enlisted because he thinks Jenny does not love him. When he finds out that she does, both are in despair as to how to get his discharge. Jenny's godfather, Old Matthew, has a violin of which he is very fond and which Peter believes to be enchanted, as it seems to make him dance. The violin was given to Matthew by his father, who told him to break it if he was ever in despair and it would be worth £100. (By now you will have guessed that the money is hidden inside the violin, but this logic seems to have escaped the characters in the story!) Matthew has been congratulated by the Duke of Marlborough, who has promised to help him if ever he needs it. He now determines to go to the Barracks to ask the Duke (who is visiting) for Peter's release. In his absence Peter smashes the violin which he considers a devil, and Matthew, returning after finding the Duke has already departed, is just in time to find the money inside it. Peter is readily forgiven (rather surprisingly), Matthew promises to use the money to buy his discharge, and Peter promises to mend the violin with glue!

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