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.

Farsa is a genre of opera, associated with Venice in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is also sometimes called farsetta.

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

Roles

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

Synopsis

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.

Fat Thursday Traditional Christian feast marking the last Thursday before Lent

Fat Thursday is a traditional Christian feast marking the last Thursday before Lent and is associated with the celebration of Carnival. Because Lent is a time of fasting, the days leading up to Ash Wednesday provide the last opportunity for feasting until Laetare Sunday, and after that not until Easter. Traditionally it is a day dedicated to eating, when people meet in their homes or cafés with their friends and relatives and eat large quantities of sweets, cakes and other meals usually not eaten during Lent. Among the most popular all-national dishes served on that day are pączki in Poland or berliner, fist-sized donuts filled with rose hip jam, and angel wings (faworki), French dough fingers served with powdered sugar.

Recordings

YearCast
(The Colonel,
Nina,
Teodoro,
Sigismondo)
Conductor,
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,
Memories
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)

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References

Notes

  1. Osborne 1994, p. 181
  2. Source for recording information: Recording(s) of Il giovedì grasso on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk

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.

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