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.

Maria Padilla (1841)

“Melodramma” in Three Acts
Libretto by Gaetano Rossi

Linda di Chamounix (1842)

“Melodramma Semiserio” in Three Acts
Libretto by Gaetano Rossi

Don Pasquale (1843)

Don Pasquale (1843)

Comic Opera in Three Acts
Libretto by M.A. [Giovanni Ruffini]

Maria di Rohan, o Il conte di Chalais (1843)

A Tragic Opera in Three Acts
Libretto by Salvatore Cammarano

Caterina Cornaro (1844)

Lyric Tragedy in a Prologue and Two Acts
Libretto by Giacomo Sacchéro

Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal (1834)

(King Sebastian of Portugal)

Opera in Five Acts
Libretto by Eugène Scribe