Gemma di Vergy

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Gemma di Vergy is an 1834 tragedia lirica (tragic opera) in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti from a libretto by Giovanni Emanuele Bidera. It is based on the tragedy Charles VII chez ses grands vassaux(Charles VII and His Chief Vassals) (1831) by Alexandre Dumas père, [1] which was later to become the subject of the opera The Saracen by the Russian composer César Cui.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

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.

Libretto text used for an extended musical work

A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.

Contents

The heroine is the childless wife of the Count of Vergy, and the plot deals with her jealousy and grief as her husband arranges an annulment of their marriage in preparation for the arrival of his new bride, Ida, and her despair following the murder of her husband by a slave, Tamas, who is secretly in love with her.

Gemma di Vergy was first performed on 26 December 1834 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. The leading role was taken by the Italian soprano Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis, Donizetti's favourite prima donna at the time, [2] for whom he had previously composed Fausta (1832 ), and for whom he was later to compose Roberto Devereux (1837).

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

A soprano[soˈpraːno] is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.

<i>Fausta</i> (opera) opera by Gaetano Donizetti

For the Roman Empress, see Fausta. For the Catholic saint, see Saint Fausta.

Performance history

The opera remained very popular in Italy until at least the 1860s. [2] It was not performed at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples until 4 March 1837, but it remained popular there and appeared every year until 1848. [3] Productions were also staged in London on 12 March 1842, Paris, New York City on 2 October 1843, Lisbon, St. Petersburg, Vienna and Barcelona. While initially popular, it had disappeared from the repertoire by about 1900, [1] although before its 20th-century revivals, it was staged in Empoli in 1901.

Teatro di San Carlo opera house in Naples, Italy

The Real Teatro di San Carlo, its original name under the Bourbon monarchy but known today as simply the Teatro di San Carlo, is an opera house in Naples, Italy. It is located adjacent to the central Piazza del Plebiscito, and connected to the Royal Palace.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris is one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Gemma di Vergy was revived for the soprano Montserrat Caballé in a production at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in December 1975. Subsequently the same soprano performed the work in concert in several other cities. A number of live recordings exist of the Caballé performances from Naples, Paris and New York.

Montserrat Caballé Spanish operatic soprano

María de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé i FolchOIC OAXS OMFRG LH OMIR was a Spanish operatic soprano. She sang a wide variety of roles, but is best known as an exponent of the works of Verdi and of the bel canto repertoire, notably the works of Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. She was noticed internationally when she stepped in for a performance of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall in 1965, and then appeared at leading opera houses. Her voice was described as pure but powerful, with superb control of vocal shadings and exquisite pianissimo.

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.

Roles

RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 26 December 1834
(Conductor: - Eugenio Cavallini)
Earl of Vergy baritone Giovanni Orazio Cartagenova
Gemma soprano Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis
Ida di Greville mezzo-soprano Felicita Baillou-Hillaret
Tamas tenor Domenico Reina
Guido bass Ignazio Marini
Rolandobass Domenico Spiaggi
Knights, archers, soldiers, bridesmaids

Recordings

YearCast
(Gemma, Ida, Tamas, Conte di Vergy)
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [4]
1975 Montserrat Caballé,
Biancamaria Casoni,
Giorgio Lamberti,
Renato Bruson
Armando Gatto
Teatro San Carlo,
Naples Orchestra and Chorus
Audio CD: Opera d'Oro
Cat: OPD 1379
1976 Montserrat Caballé,
Natalya Chudy,
Luis Lima,
Louis Quilico,
Paul Plishka (Guido)
Eve Queler,
New York Opera Orchestra,
Schola Cantorum (New York)
Audio LP: Columbia,
(first issue on CD Sony 2017) [5]
1987Adriana Maliponte,
Nucci Condò,
Ottavio Garaventa,
Luigi De Corato
Gert Meditz
Teatro Gaetano Donizetti,
RAI Milano Orchestra and Chorus
DVD: House of Opera
Cat: DVDCC 601

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References

Notes

  1. 1 2 Ashbrook & Hibberd 2001, p. 236.
  2. 1 2 Ashbrook 1982, p. 373
  3. Black 1982, p. 33
  4. Source for recording information: operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
  5. BBC Music Magazine March 2018 "An uneven opera with wonderful passages, and perhaps Montserrat Caballé’s finest recording, with stunning singing from the underrated Argentine tenor Luis Lima, and excellent supporting cast."

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

Stanley John Sadie was an influential and prolific British musicologist, music critic, and editor. He was editor of the sixth edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980), which was published as the first edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

The New Grove Dictionary of Opera is an encyclopedia of opera, considered to be one of the best general reference sources on the subject. It is the largest work on opera in English, and in its printed form, amounts to 5,448 pages in four volumes.