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.



I pazzi per progetto (1830)

Madness with Method Farce in One Act and Eighteen ScenesLibretto by Domenico GilardoniPerformed February 6, 1830 Teatro di San Carlo, Naples CAST OF CHARACTERS Norina, wife of Blinval Soprano Christina, young French woman, in love with Blinval Soprano Blinval, Colonel of the Dragoons Bass Eustachio, trumpeter in Blinval’s regiment Bass Darlemont, director of the insane…
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Gianni di Parigi (1831)

Gianni of ParisComic Opera in 2 ActsLibretto by Felice Romani CAST OF CHARACTERS The Princess of Navarre Soprano The Grand Steward of the Princess Bass Gianni of Paris Tenor Pedrigo, an innkeeper Bass Lorezza, his daughter Mezzo-soprano Oliviero, a page Contralto Choruses and extras, the princess’s retinue, Gianni’s retinue, waiters and waitresses of the inn,…
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Francesca di Foix (1831)

Francesca di Foix Melodrama in One ActLibretto by Domenico Gilardoni CAST OF CHARACTERS Francesca, Countess SopranoIl Re (The King), in the prime of life BaritoneEdmondo (Edmond), a Page ContraltoIl Conte (The Count) BassIl Duca(The Duke) TenorChorus: knights, ladies, peasants, squires, familiars of the Countess The action takes place in France, part in the Palace of…
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L’elisir d’amore (1832)

The Elixir of Love Comic Opera in Two Acts Libretto by Felice Romani CAST OF CHARACTERS Adina, a rich and capricious landowner Soprano Nemorino, a peasant, young and simple, in love with Adina Tenor Belcore, sergeant of the village garrison Baritone Doctor Dulcamara, a traveling medicine man Comic bass Giannetta, a villager Soprano Chorus and…
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Ugo, conte di Parigi (1832)

Hugh, Count of ParisLyric tragedy in two actsLibretto by Felice Romani [Hugh, the Great, Duke of the Franks and Count of Paris (ca. 898-956), was the son of Robert I of France and Beatrice de Vermandois, father of Hugh Capet (king in 987). Hugh was contemporary of Louis IV, who was crowned in 936 at…
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Fausta (1832)

FaustaSerious Melodrama in 2 ActsLibretto by Domenico Gilardoni and Gaetano Donizetti CAST OF CHARACTERS Constantino il Grande (Constantine the Great), emperor of the Romans Baritone Fausta, his second wife Soprano Beroe, prisoner, in love with and loved by Crispus Mezzo-Soprano Crispo (Crispus), son to Constantine and Minervina Tenor Massimiano (M(aximianus), former emperor, father of Fausta…
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Sancia di Castiglia (1832)

Sancha of Castile Lyric Tragedy in Two Acts Libretto by Pietro Salatini [Sancha of Castile, Queen of Navarre (c.1139-1179) was daughter of Alfonso VII of Castile by his first wife, Berenguela of Barcelona, and became wife of Sancho VI of Navarre. Sancha of Castile, Queen of Aragon (1154-1208) was her half sister, daugter of Alfonso…
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Lucrezia Borgia (1833)

Lucrezia Borgia Music drama in a prologue and two acts Libretto by Felice Romani NOTICE Victor Hugo, from whom this music drama is derived, in a celebrated tragedy [Le roi s’amuse–the source for Piave and Verdi’s Rigoletto], had represented physical deformity (his own words) sanctified by paternity: in Lucrezia Borgia it is meant to signify…
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Parisina d’Este (1833)

Parisina d’Este (Parisina) Lyric Tragedy in Three Acts Libretto by Felice Romani [After Byron’s poem “Parisina” (1816), based on a narrative by Edward Gibbon. It concerns Laura Malatesta (1404-1425), daughter of Andrea Malatesta, signore di Cesena. After her mother was poisoned, she was consigned for upbrining to her uncle Carlo Malatesta of Rimini. She became…
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Torquato Tasso (1833)

Torquato TassoMelodrama in 3 ActsLibretto by Jacopo Ferretti [Preface by the librettist] TO MY COURTEOUS FRIENDS The biography of the Italian Virgil is scattered with a few clouds so mysterious that they make it to a great degree like a romance. Godoni, Goethe, Duval, Tosini and even Professor Rosini have put the events of that…
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