Il giovedì grasso

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Il giovedì grasso is a farsa in one act by Gaetano Donizetti, from a libretto by Domenico Gilardoni. The literal translation of the title is "Fat Thursday", a reference to Carnival celebration. The libretto was adapted from the French comedies Monsieur de Pourceaugnac by Molière and Le nouveau Pourceaugnac by Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson and Eugène Scribe. The opera uses spoken dialogue rather than recitatives, and the buffo role is given in the Neapolitan language. The work premiered at the Teatro del Fondo in Naples on 26 February 1829.



RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 26 February 1829
(Conductor: )
Ernesto Rousignactenor Giovanni Battista Rubini
Stefanina soprano Rosalinda Grossi
Nina contralto Adelaide Comelli-Rubini
Sigismondo bass Luigi Lablache
The Colonel baritone Giovanni Battista Campagnoli
Teodoro tenor Giovanni Arrigotti
Camilla mezzo-soprano Maria Carraro
ColabassGiovanni Pace


Time: 17th century
Place: "A house in the country, outside Paris" [1]

The lovers Nina and Theodore are desperate since Nina is promised to Ernesto, a simple village boy. Sigismondo, who is in his private life jealous of his own wife for false suspicions and believes that Ernesto is a fool, is their friend and decides to help them. Knowing that Ernesto will come exactly when Nina's father, the Colonel, will be in Paris, offers everyone to dress up like in "Fat Thursday": He himself will be an imaginary friend from Ernesto's past and Camilla will be a former lover betrayed by Ernesto. Stephanina, who isn't familiar with Ernesto, is the one who opens the door to Ernesto and innocently tells him about the people and their scheme. Ernesto decides to fight back, refers to Sigismondo as to his friend and to Camilla as his former and betrayed lover, which allegedly confirms Sigismondo's suspicions. He also sends an urgent letter to the Colonel asking him to return home as soon as possible. Only when the Colonel is back Ernesto confesses to everyone that he, the simple village boy, is the one who had fooled them and let the lovers get married.


(The Colonel,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [2]
1970Federico Davià,
Jill Gomez,
Malcolm Williams,
Elfego Esparza
David Atherton,
Radio Teflis Éireann Symphony Orchestra
(A recording of a performance at the Wexford Festival)
Audio CD: Foyer
Cat: 1-CF 2036,
Cat: HR 4482
1971Saturno Meletti,
Mariella Devia,
Antonio Bevacqua,
Giorgio Gatti
Ottavio Ziino,
Orchestra Aidem di Firenze
33rpm LP: Voce
Cat: 110

1961 James Loomis (bass), Bruna Rizzoli (sop), Rodolfo Malacarne (ten), Nestore Catalani (bar), Orchestra della Radiotelevisione della Svizzera Italiana (Edwin Loehrer) Audio CD Nuovo Era (Membran) 232585 (released 2009)



  1. Osborne 1994, p. 181
  2. Source for recording information: Recording(s) of Il giovedì grasso on