La zingara

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La zingara
Opera semiseria by Gaetano Donizetti

Donizetti-young.jpg

Donizetti as a young man
Librettist Andrea Leone Tottola
Language Italian
Based onLa petite bohémienne
by Louis-Charles Caigniez
Premiere12 May 1822 (1822-05-12)
Teatro Nuovo (Naples)

La zingara (The Gypsy Girl) is an opera semiseria in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti, set to a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola after La petite bohémienne (The Little Gypsy) by Louis-Charles Caigniez, which was itself derived from a work of August von Kotzebue.

Opera semiseria is an Italian genre of opera, popular in the early and middle 19th century.

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

It was Donizetti's first opera written for Naples, and the first performance of this "rescue opera" took place at the Teatro Nuovo on 12 May 1822.

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.

Rescue opera opera genre

Rescue opera was a genre of opera in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in France and Germany. Generally, rescue operas deal with the rescue of a main character from danger and end with a happy dramatic resolution in which lofty humanistic ideals triumph over base motives. Operas with this kind of subject matter became popular in France around the time of the French Revolution; a number of such operas dealt with the rescue of a political prisoner. Stylistically and thematically, rescue opera was an outgrowth of the French bourgeois opéra comique; musically, it began a new tradition that would influence German Romantic opera and French grand opera. The most famous rescue opera is Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio.

Teatro Nuovo (Naples) theater in Naples

The Teatro Nuovo is a theatre located on Via Montecalvario in the Quartieri Spagnoli district of Naples. The original theatre was an opera house designed by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro. Completed in 1724, it was also known as the Teatro Nuovo sopra Toledo and the Teatro Nuovo de Montecalvario. The theatre specialised in the opera buffa genre and saw the world premieres of hundreds of operas in its heyday. These included fifteen of Cimarosa's operas and seven of Donizetti's. The present theatre is the third to have been erected on the site following its destruction by fire in 1861 and again in 1935.

One critic reviewing the 2001 recording from the Festival della Valle d'Itria, the opera's first performance outside Italy, made the following observations:

The Festival della Valle d’Itria is a summer opera festival held in the south eastern Italian town of Martina Franca in the Apulia region. The Festival was founded in 1975 and performances are given in July and August each summer on a specially constructed stage in the outdoor courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale.

Despite its moronic libretto, the opera was an enormous success at its premiere in Naples in 1822, and even Bellini wrote nice things about the second-act septet [1] in which Donizetti mixes buffo and serious characters, as well as Neapolitan dialect (there are no recitatives; numbers are separated by spoken dialogue) with "pure" Italian, and the absurd plot is (sort of) held together by the clever Argilla, who under the guise of telling fortunes gains entry to people's feelings as well as to every area of the castle. Is it a masterpiece? Even close? No, but there are niceties galore—rhythmic arias and ensembles, good (if typical) characterizations, and good tunes. [2]

Its American premiere was produced by Amore Opera in New York City in 2017. [3]

Roles

Role Voice type Premiere cast, 12 May 1822
(Conductor: – )
Argilla mezzo-soprano Giacinta Canonici
Ines soprano Caterina Monticelli
Fernando tenor Marco Venier
Don Ranuccio Zappador bass Carlo Moncada
Don Sebastiano Alvarezbass Giuseppe Fioravanti
Duca d'Alzirastenor Alessandro Busti
Papaccione basso buffo Carlo Casaccia
Ameliasoprano Francesca Ceccherini
Ghitasoprano Clementina Grassi
Manuelitasoprano Marianna Grassi
Antonio Alvarezbaritone Raffaele Sarti
Sguigliobaritone Raffaele Casaccia
Domestici di Zappador e di zingari, chorus

Synopsis

Time: The middle ages
Place: Spain

Don Ranuccio has imprisoned Don Sebastiano in his castle and he also wants to kill the Duke of Alziras, his political rival. Ranuccio's daughter Ines is in love with Fernando, but her father wants her to marry Antonio who is Don Sebastiano's nephew.

Argilla, the gypsy girl of the title, brings together the lovers Ferrando and Ines, saves the life of the Duke, whom she brings together again with his brother, and frees Don Sebastiano, who turns out to be her father. Comedy is provided by the servant Pappacione, fooled into searching for gold in an old cistern. All ends happily.

Recordings

YearCast
(Argilla, Ines,
Fernando,
Don Sebastiano Alvarez, Duca d'Alziras)
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [4]
2001Manuela Custer,
Rosita Ramini,
Massimiliano Barbolini,
Piero Terranova,
Cataldo Gallone
Arnold Bosman,
Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia and Bratislava Chamber Chorus
(Recorded at the Festival della Valle d'Itria, Martina Franca, July)
CD: Dynamic
Cat: CDS396/1-2

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References

Notes

  1. Osborne 1994, p. 146: He notes that this was an "adumbration" of the famous sextet which appeared 13 years later in Lucia di Lammermoor
  2. Robert Levine, "Donizetti – La zingara Review of 2002 recording on classicstoday.com. Retrieved 23 December 2013
  3. "Arrivederci, Romany!" by John Yohalem, parterre box, 2 June 2017
  4. Recording(s) on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk

Cited sources

Charles Thomas Osborne was an Australian journalist, theatre and opera critic, poet and novelist. He was the assistant editor of The London Magazine from 1958 until 1966, literature director of the Arts Council of Great Britain from 1971 until 1986, and chief theatre critic of Daily Telegraph (London) from 1986 to 1991.

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

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.

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.