Maria di Rohan

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Maria di Rohan
Opera by Gaetano Donizetti
Maria di Rohan Premiere - Final Scene.jpg
Eugenia Tadolini, Giorgio Ronconi and Carlo Guasco in the final scene of Maria di Rohan at the Vienna premiere
Descriptionmelodramma tragico
Librettist Salvadore Cammarano
Language Italian
Premiere6 June 1843 (1843-06-06)
Kärntnertortheater, Vienna

Maria di Rohan is a melodramma tragico, or tragic opera, in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Salvadore Cammarano, after Lockroy and Edmond Badon's Un duel sous le cardinal de Richelieu, which had played in Paris in 1832.

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.

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.


Performance history

The opera premiered at the Kärntnertortheater, Vienna on 5 June 1843. In newer times, it was staged by the Grand Théâtre de Genève in 2001 [1] and by the Donizetti Festival, Bergamo, in 2011. [2] The opera was performed in concert by Opera Rara, London, in 2009 [3] and by Washington Concert Opera in 2018. [4]

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Grand Théâtre de Genève opera house in Geneva, Switzerland

Grand Théâtre de Genève is an opera house in Geneva, Switzerland.

Bergamo Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Bergamo is a city in the alpine Lombardy region of northern Italy, approximately 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Milan, and about 30 km (19 mi) from Switzerland, the alpine lakes Como and Iseo and 70 km (43 mi) from Garda and Maggiore. The Bergamo Alps begin immediately north of the city.


RoleVoice typePremiere Cast,
5 June 1843
(Conductor: - )
Revised version,
14 November 1843
Maria, countess of Rohan soprano Eugenia Tadolini Giulia Grisi
Riccardo, count of Chalais tenor Carlo Guasco Lorenzo Salvi
Enrico, duke of Chevreuse baritone Giorgio Ronconi Giorgio Ronconi
Armando di Gondìtenor (then contralto) Michele Novaro Marietta Brambilla
The visconte of Suze bass Friedrich BecherGiovanni Rizzi
de Fiesquebass Gustav Hölzel
Aubry, secretary of ChalaistenorAnton Müller Nicola Ivanoff
A familiar of Chevreusebass
Knights, the king's cabinet, pages, guards and domestic servants of Chevreuse


The story of Maria Di Rohan is both simple (the classic love triangle) and complicated. Chalais loves Maria, who has been forced to secretly marry Chevreuse. Chevreuse is in deep trouble, because he has killed a nephew of Richelieu.

Time: Early 17th century
Place: Paris

Act 1

Maria seeks Chalais’ help. Chalais offers it, hoping that Maria will join him, obviously not knowing that she is already married to Chevreuse. Chalais succeeds and Chevreuse is pardoned. Gondi appears on the scene and insults Maria. Chalais challenges him to a duel, and Chevreuse offers to be the second. Richelieu is suddenly ousted from the court, and Chalais is offered his post. Everything looks great for him, but Maria is terribly worried. Richelieu’s demise means that Chevreuse can disclose his marriage without fear. When he points to Maria, Chalais’ world begins to collapse.

Act 2

Chalais writes a love letter to Maria and encloses her portrait. Both are hidden in his desk, to be given to Maria should he perish. He’s suddenly visited by Maria who tells him that Richelieu has regained power. She tells Chalais to flee or he will be executed. Chevreuse is heard approaching and Maria hides in an adjoining chamber. Chevreuse tells Chalais that they must leave for the Gondi duel and Chalais says he will follow. Of course he doesn’t follow, but stays to profess his love for Maria and she also admits that she has always and continues to love him. When he finally leaves for the duel, it is too late. Chevreuse has taken his place and is wounded.

Act 3

Chevreuse’s residence

He tells Maria and Chalais that he will arrange to have Chalais escape from the city. Chalais leaves, and again, everything looks good at first, but disaster strikes. Chalais’ letter and Maria’s portrait are discovered by one of the courtiers in Chalais’ desk. Chalais tells Maria about the letters and she says all is lost. Once again she tells him to flee through a secret passage, and he does, but tells her he will return if she does not follow him within an hour. Maria sings a prayer, Havvi un Dio che in sua clemenza.

The courtier gives the letter and portrait to Chevreuse and he is alternatively nostalgic and enraged. He confronts Maria and vows revenge. Suddenly Chalais returns for Maria through the secret passage. In a final trio Maria pleads for Chevreuse to kill her, Chalais says he doesn’t fear death, and Chevreuse thunders that Chalais’ death is imminent. He gives Chalais a dueling pistol and the two race out. A shot is heard. Chevreuse is furious because Chalais has committed suicide. He throws the letter and portrait to the floor before Maria and cries out La vita coll’infamia A te, donna infidel / "Life with infamy to you, faithless woman".

Note: Donizetti wrote a culminating cabaletta for Maria, but crossed it out, preferring to end the opera in a distinctly non-bel canto, but highly dramatic manner.


Armando di Gondi)
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [5]
1962 Virginia Zeani,
Enzo Tei,
Mario Zanasi,
Anna Maria Rota
Fernando Previtali,
Orchestra & Chorus of Teatro San Carlo, Naples
(Recorded at a live performance at San Carlo, Naples on 24 March)
Black Disk: Great Opera Performances
Cat: GOP 045/046
1974 Renata Scotto,
Umberto Grilli,
Renato Bruson,
Elena Zilio
Gianandrea Gavazzeni,
Orchestra & Chorus of Teatro La Fenice, Venice
(recorded at a live performance at La Fenice, Venice on 26 March)
Audio CD: Opera D'Oro
Cat: OPD 1412
1988 Mariana Nicolesco,
Giuseppe Morino,
Paolo Coni,
Francesca Franci
Massimo de Bernart,
Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia Opera & Slovak Philharmonic Chorus of Bratislava
(recorded at a live performance at Martina Franca, at the 14th Festival della Valle d'Itria, during August)
Audio CD: Nuova Era Records
Cat: 6732–6733
1996 Edita Gruberova,
Octavio Arévalo,
Ettore Kim,
Ulrika Precht
Elio Boncompagni,
Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien and Wiener Konzertchor
(recorded at performances in the Konzerthaus, Vienna, on 6 and 12 December)
Audio CD: Nightingale
Cat: NC 070567-2
2009 Krassimira Stoyanova,
José Bros,
Christopher Purves,
Loïc Félix
Sir Mark Elder,
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
(recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London, October/November)
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC44

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  1. "Gaetano Donizetti: Maria di Rohan". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. "Bergamo, Teatro Donizetti: Maria di Rohan". Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  3. Ashley, Tim. "Maria di Rohan". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  4. Banno, Joe. "Opera-singing sisters liven a routine performance of 'Maria di Rohan'". The Washington Post.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. Source for recording information:


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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