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Overture to the Opera Fra Diavolo is a Grade 6 selection, well-suited to the accomplished collegiate wind band.
French composer Daniel-Françoise-Esprit Auber (1782-1871) found his greatest success in the genre of comic opera. A student of Luigi Cherubini, the visionary pedagogue who broke the rules and admitted Offenbach to the Paris Conservatory, Auber eventually succeeded Cherubini as director of this school.
Auber devoted 60 years of his long life to operatic enterprises and enjoyed his first success in 1813, a one-act comedy titled Le Séjour Militaire, which premiered at the Opéra-Comique. His most successful comedy, however, was Fra Diavolo, which premiered on January 28, 1830. Drawing from his early success, Auber once again used the comical aspects of military life in the plot. The story centers on an historical Italian bandit, Michele Pezza, who masqueraded as a marquis and robbed tourists around Naples. The martial music at the beginning of the overture represents Lorenzo, a penniless soldier tasked to catch the bandit. Fra Diavolo received its American premiere on October 17, 1831, in New York. The “dashing bandit” was a winning idea; Hollywood adapted two characters from the story to produce the Laurel and Hardy film, Fra Diavolo, in 1933.