Rita (opera)

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Rita, ou Le mari battu (Rita, or The Beaten Husband) is an opéra comique in one act, composed by Gaetano Donizetti to a French libretto by Gustave Vaëz. The opera, a domestic comedy consisting of eight musical numbers connected by spoken dialogue, was completed in 1841 under its original title Deux hommes et une femme (Two Men and a Woman). Never performed in Donizetti's lifetime, Rita premiered posthumously at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 7 May 1860.

Opéra comique is a genre of French opera that contains spoken dialogue and arias. It emerged from the popular opéras comiques en vaudevilles of the Fair Theatres of St Germain and St Laurent, which combined existing popular tunes with spoken sections. Associated with the Paris theatre of the same name, opéra comique is not always comic or light in nature; Carmen, perhaps the most famous opéra comique, is a tragedy.

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

Composition history

In 1841, while Donizetti was in Paris waiting for the libretto to be completed for a commission by La Scala, he had a chance encounter with Gustave Vaëz, who had co-written the libretti for two of his earlier operas, Lucie de Lammermoor (the French version of Lucia di Lammermoor ) and La favorite . He asked Vaëz if he could provide a libretto for a short opera to keep him busy while waiting for the La Scala project to advance. Vaëz quickly created Deux hommes et une femme (Two Men and a Woman), a comic piece in one act consisting of eight musical numbers connected by spoken dialogue. According to Vaëz, Donizetti completed the score in eight days. [1] However, the Opéra-Comique rejected it and Donizetti then had the libretto translated into Italian for an intended performance at the Teatro del Fondo in Naples. Following the death of the Teatro del Fondo's impresario, Domenico Barbaja, the Naples performance fell through. The score, still unperformed, was found in Donizetti's effects when he died in 1848.

La Scala Opera house in Milan, Italy

La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.

<i>Lucia di Lammermoor</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian-language libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.

<i>La favorite</i> opera by Gaetano Donizetti

La Favorite is a grand opera in four acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a French-language libretto by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz, based on the play Le comte de Comminges by Baculard d'Arnaud. The opera concerns the romantic struggles of the King of Castile, Alfonso XI and his mistress, the "favourite" Leonora, against the backdrop of the political wiles of receding Moorish Spain and the life of the Catholic Church. It premiered on December 2, 1840 at the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris, France.

Performance history

On 7 May 1860, twelve years after the composer's death, the opera premiered at the Opéra-Comique with the title Rita, ou Le mari battu (Rita, or The Beaten Husband).

Although not a great success at the time and only sporadically performed in the 100 years following its premiere, it was revived and warmly received first in Rome in 1955 and then at the Piccola Scala in Milan in 1965. In the ensuing 50 years Rita (both in the original French and its Italian translation) has become one of Donizetti's most frequently performed operas. [2]

In 2009 Casa Ricordi published a new critical edition of the score, which restored the original spoken French dialogue and removed the changes which had been made to the work for its posthumous premiere and in subsequent revivals. The original French version was reconstructed by the Italian musicologists, Paolo Rossini and Francesco Bellotto, from a recently discovered manuscript libretto with autograph annotations by Donizetti. [3]

Casa Ricordi music publishing company

Casa Ricordi is a publisher of primarily classical music and opera. Its classical repertoire represents one of the important sources in the world through its publishing of the work of the major 19th-century Italian composers such as Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi, and, later in the century, Giacomo Puccini, composers with whom one or another of the Ricordi family came into close contact.

The opera was presented in concert form by the New Century Chamber Orchestra and San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellows between 12 and 16 February 2014 in four Bay Area locations. [4]

San Francisco Opera opera company based in San Francisco, United States, performing in the War Memorial Opera House

San Francisco Opera (SFO) is an American opera company, based in San Francisco, California.

The Adler Fellowship is a program to support young singers managed by the San Francisco Opera, started under the leadership of General Director Terence A. McEwen. The fellowship is named after Kurt Herbert Adler who managed the opera from 1953 until 1981. The fellowship comes with training and performance opportunities.

In March 2014 Opera Rara released Rita in the original French. Conducted by Artistic Director Sir Mark Elder, this was the first studio recording of the newly restored critical edition of the score. It features Katarina Karnéus as Rita, Barry Banks as Pepé and Christopher Maltman as Gasparo.

Roles

RoleVoice typePremiere Cast, 7 May 1860
(Conductor: - )
Rita, landlady of the tavern soprano Constance-Caroline Faure-Lefèbvre
Peppe, her husband tenor Victor Warot
Gaspar, her former husband baritone Barielle
Bortolo, a servantspoken role Jean-Baptiste Faure

Synopsis

Time: 18th century
Place: "The action takes place at an inn on the road from Genoa to Turin." [3]

At an inn belonging to Rita, the tyrannical and abusive wife of the timid Peppe, the couple finds that their lives are thrown into turmoil with the unexpected arrival of Gaspar, Rita's first husband, whom all believed to have drowned. In reality, Gaspar had run away to Canada. Believing that Rita has died in a fire, Gaspar has returned to obtain her death certificate so that he can remarry. When the two meet, Gaspar tries to run away. Peppe, however, sees this as an opportunity to free himself from Rita's slaps because Gaspar is her legitimate husband. The two men agree to a game such that whoever wins has to remain with Rita. Both try to lose, but ultimately the winner is Gaspar. Yet Rita, who had suffered frequently from the hand of Gaspar, refuses to return to be his wife. Gaspar, pretending he has lost the hand, induces Peppe to declare his love for Rita and his firm intention to remain as her husband. The crafty Gaspar, having achieved his purpose, takes his leave from the reconciled couple.

Recordings

YearCast
(Rita, Peppe, Gaspar)
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [5]
1991Adelina Scarabelli,
Pietro Ballo,
Alessandro Corbelli
Federico Amendola
Orchestra da Camera Siciliana [6]
Audio CD: Nuova Era
Cat: 7045
2001Teresa di Bari,
Walter Omaggio,
Paolo Bordogna
Carlo Palleschi
Orchestra della Fondazione I.C.O. «Tito Schipa» di Lecce [6]
Audio CD: Kicco Classic
Cat: KC 079
2014Katarina Karnéus,
Barry Banks,
Christopher Maltman
Sir Mark Elder
The Hallé
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC50

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References

Notes

  1. Weinstock 1963, pp. 168-169; Osborne 1994, p. 281
  2. Ashbrook 1982, p. 160
  3. 1 2 Rossini and Bellotto (Eds.) 2009, Critical edition of Rita, p. ??
  4. New Century Chamber Orchestra's website
  5. Source for recordings: operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
  6. 1 2 performed in Italian

Cited 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.

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