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Barely a month after Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana reached New York in October of 1891, a production of that same opera was selling out in London and then received a special request – indeed, a command. Singers, musicians, crew and producer were to attend upon none other than Queen Victoria, the woman who had already given her name to the era. Their temporary venue would be Windsor Castle, and among the other eminences in the audience would be the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra), two of Victoria’s grown daughters (Princesses Beatrice and Louise), and the queen’s granddaughter Maud, who would later become Queen of Norway. The London producer, identified in the press as “Signor Lago” or (incorrectly) “Signor Tagos” of the Royal Italian Opera Company, was enjoying so much success that he had begun to stage the opera every night of the week at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

News of the Victoria’s “command” generated stories and headlines here in the USA. The Washington Post commented that 

"All of the scenery of the opera was transported from London and set up in the castle, and the opera was produced with the most punctilious regard to every detail."


The New York Times added a further note that Cavalleria was taking the place of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe, which had originally been scheduled to enjoy a royal viewing. This substitution was blamed on the size and bulk of the Ivanhoe scenery – but could some other factors have been involved?






 


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