Pia de' Tolomei (opera)

Last updated

Pia de' Tolomei is a tragedia lirica (tragic opera) in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto after Bartolomeo Sestini's verse novella Pia de' Tolomei , which was based on Canto V, vv. 130-136 from Dante's narrative poem The Divine Comedy part 2: Purgatorio . It premiered on 18 February 1837 at the Teatro Apollo in Venice. [1]

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.

Salvadore Cammarano Italian librettist and playwright

Salvadore Cammarano was a prolific Italian librettist and playwright perhaps best known for writing the text of Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) for Gaetano Donizetti.

Contents

Composition history

Background

Pia de' Tolomei is a tragic figure whom Dante encountered in Purgatory. [2] Her story was so familiar to Dante's readers that an understated allusion was enough to call it to mind:

Purgatory intermediate state after death for undergoing purification, pronounced by Christian denominations including the Roman Catholic Church

Purgatory is, according to the belief of some Christians, an intermediate state after physical death for expiatory purification.

Allusion is a figure of speech, in which an object or circumstance from unrelated context is referred to covertly or indirectly. It is left to the audience to make the direct connection. Where the connection is directly and explicitly stated by the author, it is instead usually termed a reference. In the arts, a literary allusion puts the alluded text in a new context under which it assumes new meanings and denotations. It is not possible to predetermine the nature of all the new meanings and inter-textual patterns that an allusion will generate. Literary allusion is closely related to parody and pastiche, which are also "text-linking" literary devices.

Italian
Translation in English

«Deh, quando tu sarai tornato al mondo,
e riposato de la lunga via»,
seguitò 'l terzo spirito al secondo,
«Ricorditi di me, che son la Pia;
Siena mi fé, disfecemi Maremma:
salsi colui che 'nnanellata pria
disposando m'avea con la sua gemma.»

“Ah, when you have returned to the world,
and rested from the long journey,”
followed the third spirit after the second,
“remember me, the one who is Pia;
Siena made me, Maremma undid me:
he knows it, the one who first encircled
my finger with his jewel, when he married me.”

Siena Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.

Maremma Place in Italy

The Maremma is a coastal area of western central Italy, bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea. It includes much of south-western Tuscany and part of northern Lazio. It was formerly mostly marshland, often malarial, but was drained by order of Fernando I de' Medici.

Performance history

Pia de' Tolomei
(Eliseo Sala, 1846), Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia Eliseo Sala, Malinconia o Pia de' Tolomei.jpg
Pia de' Tolomei
(Eliseo Sala, 1846), Pinacoteca Tosio Martinengo, Brescia

19th century

Donizetti agreed to write Pia de' Tolomei for the Teatro La Fenice in Venice and began composing it in October 1836 before the premiere of L'assedio di Calais in Naples in November. In early December he left for Venice, but was delayed in Genoa by an eighteen-day quarantine due to a cholera epidemic and while there learned that the Teatro La Fenice had been destroyed by fire on 12 December. Since the directors felt the production would have to be canceled, they wanted him to take a substantial reduction in his fee. After this news Donizetti originally intended to return to Naples, but having just signed a contract to purchase a new home prior to leaving Naples, he changed his mind and decided to proceed directly to Venice to see what could be done. After arriving he was able to reach an agreement with La Fenice's management and its impresario, Alessandro Lanari, to perform Pia de' Tolomei in early February at another theatre in Venice, the Teatro Apollo, where La Fenice's season had been transferred. [3]

<i>Lassedio di Calais</i> Opera by Gaetano Donizetti

L'assedio di Calais is an 1836 melodramma lirico, or opera, in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti, his 49th opera. Salvatore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto, which has been described as "...a remarkable libretto, the closest Cammarano ever got to real poetry, particularly in his description of the embattled city and the heartfelt pride of its citizens". It was based on Luigi Marchionni's play L'assedio di Calais, which had been presented in Naples around 1825, and secondarily on Luigi Henry's ballet L'assedio di Calais, which had been performed in Naples in 1828 and revived in 1835.

Genoa Comune in Liguria, Italy

Genoa is the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and the sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived within the city's administrative limits. As of the 2011 Italian census, the Province of Genoa, which in 2015 became the Metropolitan City of Genoa, counted 855,834 resident persons. Over 1.5 million people live in the wider metropolitan area stretching along the Italian Riviera.

Cholera Bacterial infection of the small intestine

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The classic symptom is large amounts of watery diarrhea that lasts a few days. Vomiting and muscle cramps may also occur. Diarrhea can be so severe that it leads within hours to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. This may result in sunken eyes, cold skin, decreased skin elasticity, and wrinkling of the hands and feet. Dehydration can cause the skin to turn bluish. Symptoms start two hours to five days after exposure.

The opening was delayed when bass Celestino Salvatori, who had been scheduled to sing the role of Nello Della Pietra, became ill, and Donizetti had to rewrite the part for the baritone Giorgio Ronconi. [4] The opera finally opened on 18 February, and Donizetti wrote a letter to a friend that "Pia pleased altogether, except for the first act finale." [5] In fact, that finale had been "greeted with whistles of disapproval". [6] Donizetti revised the opera with Cammarano's help in the spring of 1837, and this version was performed on 31 July 1837 in the Adriatic resort of Sinigaglia. [7] Donizetti revised it a second time with the help of an unknown librettist for the Teatro Argentina in Rome, where it was performed in May 1838 with the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi (the future wife of Verdi) in the title role. [8]

Giorgio Ronconi Italian opera singer

Giorgio Ronconi was an Italian operatic baritone celebrated for his brilliant acting and compelling stage presence. In 1842, he created the title-role in Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco at La Scala, Milan.

Senigallia Comune in Marche, Italy

Senigallia is a comune and port town on Italy's Adriatic coast. It is situated in the province of Ancona in the Marche region and lies approximately 30 kilometers north-west of the provincial capital city Ancona. Senigallia's small port is located at the mouth of the river Misa.

Teatro Argentina Theater in Rome, Italy

The Teatro Argentina is an opera house and theatre located in Largo di Torre Argentina, a square in Rome, Italy. One of the oldest theatres in Rome, it was constructed in 1731 and inaugurated on 31 January 1732 with Berenice by Domenico Sarro. It is built over part of the curia section of the Theatre of Pompey. This curia was the location of the assassination of Julius Caesar.

It was finally performed on 30 September 1838 in Naples, but under the condition that Pia did not die. It was not well received over its ten performances, and was revived at the end of 1839. [9] The opera was performed in Milan and Florence in 1839 (as well as some other Italian theatres), Barcelona in 1844, Lisbon in 1847, and Malta in 1854–1855, after which it fell from the repertory.

20th century and beyond

A revival took place on 3 September 1967 at the Teatro dei Rinnovati in Siena, a production which was also staged in Bologna in March of the following year. It was given a concert performance on 26 February 1978 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. [6] Among other performances, the opera was staged at La Fenice in 2005, [10] , by English Touring Opera in 2016, [11] , and was programmed to receive its US premiere at the Spoleto Festival in May 2018. [12]

Roles

Pia de' Tolomei
(Carlo Arienti, 1843-1854) Pia dei Tolomei, by Carlo Arienti.JPG
Pia de' Tolomei
(Carlo Arienti, 1843–1854)
RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 18 February 1837
(Conductor: - )
Pia, Nello's wife soprano Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani
Ghino Degli Armieri, Nello's cousin tenor Antonio Poggi
Nello Della Pietra baritone Giorgio Ronconi
Rodrigo, Pia's brother contralto Rosina Mazzarelli
Piero, a hermit bass Alessandro Meloni
Ubaldo, Nello's servanttenor Alessandro Giacchini
Bicesoprano Marietta Bramati
Lamberto, old servant of Pia's familybass Alessandro Cecconi
Servants, bridesmaids, hermits

Synopsis

Place: Siena
Time: 1260

Ghino has fallen in love with Pia, wife of his cousin Nello, a Ghibelline lord. When she refuses his love, as revenge Ghino informs Nello that he has discovered a secret message (found by the mischievous servant Ubaldo) proving that Pia has an adulterous relation. It tells of a secret meeting to be held between Pia and her lover. Ghino goes to the place described in the message, and does find Pia with a man. Ghino does not know that the man is not her lover but her brother Rodrigo, a Guelph, whom she is helping to escape from Nello's prison. Rodrigo manages to escape, but Pia is captured and imprisoned.

Ghino again offers her his love, promising to give her freedom in exchange; but the woman still refuses. Impressed by Pia's virtue and informed of the true identity of her alleged lover, Ghino repents and, mortally wounded in battle, reveals the truth to Nello. However, Nello had already given to his servant Ubaldo the order to kill Pia by poisoning. Nello rushes to stop the servant, but it is too late: he finds his wife is dying. On her deathbed, Pia forgives her husband, and effects a reconciliation between him and Rodrigo.

[When it was finally accepted for performances at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples on 30 September 1838, it was with the requirement that Pia not die.] [9]


Recordings

YearCast:
Pia,
Ghino degli Armieri,
Nello della Pietra,
Rodrigo
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [13]
2004Majella Cullagh,
Bruce Ford,
Roberto Servile,
Manuela Custer
David Parry
London Philharmonic Orchestra and Geoffrey Mitchell Choir [14]
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC 30
2005 Patrizia Ciofi,
Dario Schmunck,
Andrew Schroeder,
Laura Polverelli
Paolo Arrivabeni
Teatro La Fenice Orchestra and Chorus
[14]
(Audio and video recordings made at performances in the Teatro La Fenice, April)
Audio CD: Dynamic
Cat: CDS 488/1-2
DVD: Dynamic
Cat: 33488

Related Research Articles

<i>Belisario</i> opera seria in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti

Belisario (Belisarius) is a tragedia lirica in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto after Luigi Marchionni's adaptation of Eduard von Schenk's play, Belisarius, first staged in Munich in 1820 and then in Naples in 1826. The plot is loosely based on the life of the famous general Belisarius of the 6th century Byzantine Empire.

<i>Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali, also known as Viva la mamma, is a dramma giocoso, or opera, in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Domenico Gilardoni, adapted from Antonio Simeone Sografi's plays Le convenienze teatrali (1794) and Le inconvenienze teatrali (1800).

<i>Lajo nellimbarazzo</i> opera

L'ajo nell'imbarazzo is a melodramma giocoso, or opera, in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, after the 1807 play by Giovanni Giraud. At its premiere at the Teatro Valle, Rome on 4 February 1824, it "was greeted with wild enthusiasm [and] it was with this opera that [...] Donizetti had his first really lasting success" During revisions planned for the 1826 production in Naples, Donizetti renamed the opera Don Gregorio, and it is under that name that most later productions were staged.

<i>Caterina Cornaro</i> (opera) opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Caterina Cornaro ossia La Regina di Cipro is a tragedia lirica, or opera, in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Giacomo Sacchèro wrote the Italian libretto after Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges' libretto for Halévy's La reine de Chypre (1841). It is based on the life of Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus from 1474 to 1489. It premiered at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples on 12 January 1844.

<i>Ugo, conte di Parigi</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Ugo, conte di Parigi is a tragedia lirica, or tragic opera, in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after Hippolyte-Louis-Florent Bis's Blanche d'Aquitaine. It premiered on 13 March 1832 at La Scala, Milan.

<i>Il diluvio universale</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Il diluvio universale is an azione tragico-sacra, or opera, by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Domenico Gilardoni after Lord Byron's Heaven and Earth and Francesco Ringhieri's tragedy Il diluvio (1788).

<i>Maria de Rudenz</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Maria de Rudenz is a dramma tragico, or tragic opera, in three parts by Gaetano Donizetti. The Italian libretto was written by Salvadore Cammarano, based on "a piece of Gothic horror", La nonne sanglante by Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois and Julien de Mallian, and The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis. It premiered at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, on 30 January 1838.

<i>Gabriella di Vergy</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Gabriella di Vergy is an opera seria in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti written in 1826 and revised in 1838, from a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola, which was based on the tragedy Gabrielle de Vergy (1777) by Dormont De Belloy. Prior to that, the play was itself inspired by two French medieval legends, Le châtelain de Coucy et la dame de Fayel and Le Roman de la chastelaine de Vergy.

<i>Gemma di Vergy</i> opera

Gemma di Vergy is an 1834 tragedia lirica 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, which was later to become the subject of the opera The Saracen by the Russian composer César Cui.

<i>Imelda de Lambertazzi</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Imelda de' Lambertazzi is a melodramma tragico or tragic opera in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti from a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola, based on the tragedy Imelda by Gabriele Sperduti. It received its first performance on 5 September 1830 at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples.

<i>Gianni di Parigi</i> opera comica in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti

Gianni di Parigi is an 1839 melodramma comico in two acts with music by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Felice Romani, which had previously been set by Francesco Morlacchi in 1818 and by Giovanni Antonio Speranza in 1836.

Giuseppe Lillo Italian composer

Giuseppe Lillo was an Italian composer. He is best known for his operas which followed in the same vein of Gioachino Rossini. He also produced works for solo piano, a small amount of sacred music, and some chamber music.

<i>Una follia</i> opera

Una follia is a farsa in one act by composer Gaetano Donizetti. The work premiered on 15 December 1818 at the Teatro San Luca in Venice. The opera uses the same Italian-language libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli after August von Kotzebue's Der Graf von Burgund that Donizetti used for his Enrico di Borgogna a month earlier, but with different music. It was given one performance and "never performed again, and its score has never been found."

<i>Il furioso allisola di San Domingo</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo(The Madman on the Island of San Domingo) is a "romantic melodramma" in two acts by the composer Gaetano Donizetti. Jacopo Ferretti, who since 1821 had written five libretti for Donizetti and two for Rossini, had proposed the unusual subject and he was contracted to write the Italian libretto based on a five-act play of the same title by an unknown author in 1820, which "had been given in the same theatre [...] and which Donizetti had immediately loved". However, as has been noted by Charles Osborne, the "ultimate derivation of both play and libretto is an episode in part 1 of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes's published in 1605" which is the story of Cardenio and Lucinda.

<i>La romanziera e luomo nero</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

La romanziera e l'uomo nero is an 1831 one-act farsa with music by Gaetano Donizetti and an Italian libretto by Domenico Gilardoni, possibly based on the 1819 play La donna dei romanzi by Augusto Bon. Other suggested sources include L'homme noir (1820) by Eugene Scribe and Jean-Henri Dupin and Le coiffeur et le perruquier (1824) by Scribe, Édouard-Joseph-Ennemond Mazères and Charles Nombret Saint-Laurent.

Domenico Gilardoni (1798–1831) was an Italian opera librettist, most well known for his collaborations with the composers Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti.

Pia de Tolomei

Pia de' Tolomei was an Italian noblewoman from Siena.

References

Notes

  1. Ashbrook 1992, p. 997.
  2. Purgatorio V, 130-136; Italian Wikipedia: "Pia de' Tolomei"
  3. Weinstock 1963, pp. 123–124; Osborne 1994, p. 257.
  4. Weinstock 1963, p. 124.
  5. Quoted and translated in Osborne 1994, p. 257.
  6. 1 2 Osborne 1994, p. 257.
  7. Ashbrook 1982, p. 564.
  8. Osborne 1994, p. 257; Ashbrook 1982, p. 564. Ashbrook says the second revised version with Strepponi was first performed on 30 September 1838 at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples.
  9. 1 2 Black 1982, p. 38
  10. Farr, Robert. "Pia de' Tolomei". musicweb international. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  11. Valori, Charlotte. "Something old, something new: Donizetti's Pia de' Tolomei". bachtrack.com. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  12. "Pia de' Tolomei". spoletousa.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  13. Source of recording on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
  14. 1 2 Performed in the Critical Edition prepared by Giorgio Pagannone for the Donizetti Foundation, Bergamo

Cited sources

Online sources