Donizetti

The More I learn, the Less I Know

Donizetti is the first composer whose work I have tried to tackle. My goal was and is to provide serviceable English versions of all of the 60-odd operas he composed during his 25 year productive career. Of course, as with all 18th- and 19th-century Italian opera, the archaic poetic language that characterizes the serious works takes some getting used to. For another, many of the earlier libretti written for Naples include a buffo bass character who sings in Neapolitan dialect. With that I do the best I can, but I’m sure there are things I will have misconstrued. I welcome corrections and suggestions. As elsewhere, I have tried to steer a course between strict literal interpretation and readability, erring on the side of the literal as I find it more useful for opera lovers who want to understand the Italian rather than just the gist. Consequently there is much that is stilted and awkward. That’s just the way it is.



Enrico di Borgogna (1818)

Opera in 2 acts, first performed 14 November 1818

Il falegname di Livonia (1819)

Comic Opera in 2 Acts

Zoraida di Granata (1822)

Heroic Opera in Two Acts
Libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli

La zingara (1822)

Melodrama Semiserio in 2 Acts
Libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola

La lettera anonima (1822)

Farce in One Act

Alfredo il grande (1823)

(Alfred the Great)

Emilia di Liverpool (1824)

Type your introduction here. (Emily of Liverpool) Drama Semiserio in Two ActsLibretto by Giuseppe Ceccherini CAST OF CHARACTERS Emily Soprano Claude of Liverpool, her father Bass Frederick Tenor Sir Romualdo Buffo Candida, his daughter Mezzo-soprano Louisa Soprano The Count Bass A Villager Chorus of Villagers The action takes place in a valley a few leagues…
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Alahor in Granata (1826)

Alahor in GranadaMusic Drama in 2 ActsLibretto by M. A. ARGUMENT It was then a time when the factions of the Abencerages and the Zegris in Granada were engaged in bloody subversion of that kingdom. One night, Ali, chief of the Zegri, arouses the the Abencerages with a false alarm, makes a terrible slaughter of…
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Elvida (1826)

Music Drama in One ActLibretto by Giovanni Schmidt ARGUMENT[From the printed edition of the libretto] This brief dramatic action has no historical basis. In the continual wars that shook Spain during the Moorish occupation, it is related that a noble Castilian lady was taken prisoner by the Moors; that a warrior prince, to whom she…
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Otto mesi in due ore, ossi Gli esiliati in Siberia (1827, rev. 1833, 1841)

.Eight Mopnths in Two Hours, or The Exiles in Siberia Romantic Melodrama in Three PartsLibretto by Domenico Gilardoni CAST OF CHARACTERS The Emperor Tenor The Grand Marshal Bass Count Stanislaus Potoski Tenor Countess Fedora, his wife Mezzo-soprano Elisabetta, their daughter Soprano Maria, nurse of Elisabetta Mezzo-soprano Ivano, a Boyar but now a ferryman in the…
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