Some of the ballads most popular in Victorian drawing-rooms were extracted from the peculiarly British form of ballad opera. One of the classic ballad operas was Maritana
, produced at Drury Lane Theatre, London, in 1845. Its several highly successful individual numbers include ‘Yes! Let me like a soldier fall’ for the opera’s hero, Don Caesar. The book of the opera was by Edward Fitzball (né Ball), who was born in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, and became a prolific dramatist after acquiring a taste for the theatre during a youthful visit to Norwich. The composer, William Vincent Wallace, was born in Waterford and died in the Pyrenees. In between he travelled across the world as violinist and pianist and acquired a reputation as an adventurer. It was Maritana
that gave him renown as composer; but he never repeated its success.
from notes by Andrew Lamb © 2003