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O'Reilly Theatre, National Opera House

Opera in One Act

Franco Leoni (1864–1949)

Libretto by Camillo Zanoni, based on the Cat and the Cherub by C. B. Fernald

First performance Covent Garden, London, 28 June 1905

Set in San Francisco, the opera opens upon the fifth hour of the Chinese new year's day. Chim-Fen, owner of an opium den, wants to marry Ah-Joe, the daughter of the merchant Hu-Tsin, but she only has eyes for San-Lui. During the procession of the dragon when everyone is distracted, Chim-Fen kidnaps Hu-Tsin’s son Hu-Chi, hoping that his father will offer Ah-Joe’s hand in marriage to whomever finds his boy. But San-Lui discovers the child before Chim-Fen can return him, so Chim-Fen murders the man with a hatchet. Ah-Joe is driven literally insane with grief over the death of her lover. San-Lui’s father, the distinguished doctor Win-Shee, finds the little boy and returns him to Hu-Tsin. Quietly speaking to Chim-Fen, who feigns indignation over San-Lui’s murder, as they sit on a bench, Win-Shee first stabs, then strangles, the horrible man who murdered his son. A policeman walking by thinks the two men, one of whom is dead, are engrossed in conversation. When he turns the corner, the body drops to the ground. San-Lui is dead, Ah-Joe is insane, and a good and decent man has been driven to murder.


Uni-ScîLeon Kim
Cim-FenJoo Won Kang
Hu-TsinBenjamin Cho
Uin-San-LuiSergio escobar
Ah-JoeElisabetta Farris
hua-QuîLouise innes
Hu-CîCillian McCamley
RépétiteursGiorgio D'Alonzo
Tina Chang
Performed as part ofDouble Bill L'Oracolo/ Mala Vita

Creative team

ComposerFranco Leoni
ConductorFrancesco Cilluffo
DirectorRodula Gaitanou
Assistant DirectorRebecca Meltzer
Set DesignCordelia Chisolm
Costume DesignCordelia Chisolm
Lighting DesignPaul Hackenmueller
ChoreographerRebecca Meltzer (Movement Director)
Chorus MasterErrol Girdlestone (Elizabeth Drwal, Children's Chorus Director)
Stage ManagerColin Murphy
SubtitlesElizabeth Drwal
MiscellaneousOpera in one act, Libretto by Camillo Zanoni, Sung in Italian
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