Francesca di Foix

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Francesca di Foix is a melodramma giocoso (comic opera) in one act by Gaetano Donizetti with a libretto by Domenico Gilardoni based on one by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly and Emmanuel Mercier-Dupaty for Henri Montan Berton's 3-act opéra-comique Françoise de Foix, inspired by the life of Françoise de Foix. [1]

Melodramma is a 17th-century Italian term for a text to be set as an opera, or the opera itself. In the 19th-century, it was used in a much narrower sense by English writers to discuss developments in the early Italian libretto, e.g., Rigoletto and Un ballo in maschera. Characteristic are the influence of French bourgeois drama, female instead of male protagonists, and the practice of opening the action with a chorus.

Comic opera opera genre

Comic opera denotes a sung dramatic work of a light or comic nature, usually with a happy ending.

Gaetano Donizetti 19th-century Italian opera composer

Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer. Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, Donizetti was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the nineteenth century. Donizetti's close association with the bel canto style was undoubtedly an influence on other composers such as Giuseppe Verdi.


It received its first performance on 30 May 1831 at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples.

Naples Comune in Campania, Italy

Naples is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan. In 2017, around 967,069 people lived within the city's administrative limits while its province-level municipality has a population of 3,115,320 residents. Its continuously built-up metropolitan area is the second or third largest metropolitan area in Italy and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe.

Performance history

The opera is chiefly known for having provided segments to other Donizetti operas, including Ugo, conte di Parigi , L'elisir d'amore and Gabriella di Vergy although a complete recording exists on the Opera Rara label.

<i>Ugo, conte di Parigi</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Ugo, conte di Parigi is a tragedia lirica, or tragic opera, in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after Hippolyte-Louis-Florent Bis's Blanche d'Aquitaine. It premiered on 13 March 1832 at La Scala, Milan.

<i>Lelisir damore</i> 1832 opera by Gaetano Donizetti

L'elisir d'amore is a comic opera in two acts by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto, after Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel Auber's Le philtre (1831). The opera premiered on 12 May 1832 at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan.

<i>Gabriella di Vergy</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Gabriella di Vergy is an opera seria in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti written in 1826 and revised in 1838, from a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola, which was based on the tragedy Gabrielle de Vergy (1777) by Dormont De Belloy. Prior to that, the play was itself inspired by two French medieval legends, Le châtelain de Coucy et la dame de Fayel and Le Roman de la chastelaine de Vergy.

It was given in London in November 2013, along with Debussy's L'enfant prodigue as a double bill, at the Guildhall School of Music staged by the Australian opera director Stephen Barlow. [2]

L'enfant prodigue is a scène lyrique or cantata in one act by Claude Debussy with a text by Édouard Guinand. The cantata premiered in Paris on June 27, 1884 as part of the Prix de Rome for composition competition which was awarded to Debussy with this piece by 22 out of 28 votes. The prize win garnered Debussy a scholarship to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, which included a four-year residence at the Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome, to further his studies (1885-1887).

Stephen Barlow is an Australian born (1973), London based opera director. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School and the University of Melbourne. He has directed operas for the Metropolitan Opera New York, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Opera Holland Park (London), Singapore Lyric Opera, Mid Wales Opera, British Youth Opera, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and University College Opera, London. He has also worked for the Royal National Theatre, London and the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.


RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 30 May 1831
(Conductor: - )
Francesca soprano Luigia Boccabadati
The king baritone Antonio Tamburini
Edmondo contralto Marietta Gioia Tamburini
The count bass Giovanni Campagnoli
The duke tenor Lorenzo Bonfigli
Knights, bridesmaids, peasants


Time: The Middle Ages
Place: France [3]

The Count is determined to keep his beautiful wife Francesca well away from the temptations of the French court. Knowing the amorous ways of the nobility he tells them that she is unwilling to appear in public because she is extremely ugly.

Unfortunately this raises the interest of the King who despatches one of his gentlemen (the Duke) to investigate, and if he finds that the Countess is beautiful he must lure her back incognito to court.

Sure enough the Duke is able to persuade Francesca to return to Paris with him. Rather than admit his deceit her husband at first refuses to acknowledge who she is. To force his hand the King announces that a tournament is to be held and the winning knight will be given Francesca's hand in marriage.

The Count can no longer keep up his subterfuge and admits that, driven by jealousy, he lied to the King and his courtiers. After due admonishment by the King all is forgiven and the Count and Countess live happily ever after.


King, Edmondo,
Count, Duke)
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [4]
1982Gillian Sullivan,
Lynne Smythe,
Della Jones,
Donald Maxwell,
Gordon Christie
David Parry (conductor) David Parry,
Opera Rara Orchestra and Chorus
(Recording of performance at Camden Festival in the Collegiate Theatre, March)
Cassette: Live Opera
Cat: 03460
2004 Annick Massis,
Pietro Spagnoli,
Jennifer Larmore,
Alfonso Antoniozzi,
Bruce Ford
Antonello Allemandi,
London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC 28

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  1. Ashbrook 1982, p. 551, and Osborne 1994, p. 200. Berton's opera was first performed on 28 January 1809 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Feydeau. It continued to be performed there until 1825 (Wild and Charlton 2005, p. 264). Smart & Budden 2001, as well as Ashbrook 1992, say Gilardoni's libretto was based on Charles-Simon Favart's libretto Ninette à la cour as adapted for Louis Joseph Saint-Amans' 2-act opéra-comique, performed in 1791 at the Salle Favart (Cook 1992, p. 125). Favart's libretto was first written in 3 acts and performed as Le caprice amoureux, ou Ninette à la cour by the Théâtre-Italien with music by diverse composers on 12 February 1755. It was a parody of Vincenzo Legrenzio Ciampi's 2-act intermède Bertoldo in corte, an Italian opera buffa which had first been performed by Bambini's company at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal on 22 November 1753 as part of the Guerre des Bouffons (Pitou 1985, vol. 2, pp. 116, 564). Favart's libretto was also revised by Auguste Creuzé de Lesser as the 2-act opéra-comique Ninette à la cour, ou Le retour au village with music by Henri François Berton, first presented on 21 December 1811 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Feydeau, where it was kept in repertory for two years (Wild and Charlton 2005, p. 341).
  2. "L'enfant prodigue and Francesca di Foix at Guildhall", on Retrieved 11 December 2013
  3. Osborne, p. 200
  4. Source for recording information: Recordings of Francesca di Foix on

Cited sources

William Ashbrook was an American musicologist, writer, journalist, and academic. He was perhaps best noted as a historian, researcher and popularizer of the works of Italian opera composer Gaetano Donizetti.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Other sources

Amanda Juliet Holden is a British musician, librettist and translator.

The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a serially-based system of numbering cataloging records in the Library of Congress in the United States. It has nothing to do with the contents of any book, and should not be confused with Library of Congress Classification.