The action is set in Tunis in Babouc’s house. Bakbarah (Le Cadi) wishes to marry Babouc’s sister Margiane (Fatmé), but the latter throws a fit whenever marriage is mentioned. The only thing that will calm her is a song accompanied by the guzla, which she heard once played by a mysterious stranger in the street. The singer is of course Hassan (L’Émir) who is brought to the house to cure her, while she is obliged to pretend to be an old aunt. Later he comes disguised as an old Jewish doctor. Margiane is eventually cured and all misunderstandings are cleared up.
No trace of the music survives. It is likely that much of it was absorbed by , perhaps by , or other works. The mention of a guzla in the stage direction of no. 8 (Nadir’s ) of is perhaps an indication that this piece was originally the (no. 4) in ; and the Institut’s description of the as containing an ‘elegant serenade accompanied by a harp and an attractive flute line’ hints that this may have been the original form of the for Nadir and Zurga in Act I of .
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In Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, the Count’s consort Haydee – a Greek princess, daughter of the noble Ali Pasha – plays an unusual instrument called the guzla.
|Tamburica, Yugoslavia early 20th century||Lira, folk fiddle. Greece. 19thC||Balalika. Russia. Bass, tenor, & piccolo sizes.||Domra. Russian..|