News (What I’m Into)

The More I learn, the Less I Know

12 January 2024

Well, two years have slipped by without acknowledgment. The reason is that I have done pretty much nothing about Ariosto or Donizetti or Rossini, but instead have been collaborating with a friend on two novels she has written, one to be reissued in corrected form, the other to be published sometime in 2024. The author is Jerrine Wire. The first book is called Beatchik, a roman à clef about 1960s and 70s American bohemia. The second is Vincent: The Diary of Marguerite Gachet, which is (obviously) about the last days and death of Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise.

In addition to this literary work, my wife and I took time out to travel to Leipzig for the grand spectacle of ALL 13 stage works of Richard Wagner presented in chronological order over 3 weeks. Not only were the productions mostly first-rate, but also the audience was made up of true aficionados who were great fun to get to know. We met a German couple who interrupted their voyage round the world (just the two of them in a sailboat) to fly from Panama to Leipzig just for this.

Now I am getting back to work revising the Orlando summary in incorporate temporal and geographical notes.

29 January 2022

After a long delay over the holidays, I got back to work on my little vanity project and finished Don Pasquale, Maria di Rohanand Dom Sébastien, both of which are now posted in Donizetti. I still have L’ajo nell’imbarazzo, or Don Gregorio, which I skipped for some reason. I am afraid I’ll have to forgo Il fortunato inganno, which has too much Neapolitan that I cannot fathom–sorry. Also I still don’t have downloadable Italian texts for Le nozze in villa, Il romanzesco e l’uomo nero, and I piccoli virtuosi ambulanti. The next project, then will be to tackle Rossini–maybe starting with the serious operas.

20 October 2021
Since August I’ve completed translations of Lucia, Adelia, Rita, Maria Padilla, Linda di Chamounix, and Caterina Cornaro. I’m now doing Don Pasquale, and after that Maria di Rohan and Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal. Then I’ll have to go back and finish a couple I left behind, Don Gregorio, Fille du Régiment, and Donizetti’s first performed, Il Pigmalione. If anyone knows how I can get the Italian text for Le nozze in villa I’ll be grateful.

18 July 2021
The past couple of weeks’ work was interrupted by travel, so I have managed to edit only the three from 1835 promised below plus Belisario (1836) and Betly (1837, out of sequence). Il campanello di notte should be ready soon, and then I’m on to the last for which I have completed drafts, L’assedio di Calais (1836) and Pia de’ Tolomei (1937). After that I shall have to tackle nearly twenty more for which I have the original Italian or French. I expect to take a break at some point before finishing those to return to Orlando innamorato.

6 July 2021
The Donizetti pages are now updated with eight revised libretti. New additions are Fausta, Sancia di Castiglia, and works from 1833-1834: Lucrezia Borgia, Parisina d’Este, Torquato Tasso, Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo, and Rosmonda d’Inghilterra. Presently I’ll have Gemma di Vergy, Maria Stuarda, and Marin Faliero, which will take us through 1835. For a bit of perspective, this year saw the death of Vicenzo Bellini, nearly four years after the premier of Norma. Verdi was not yet on the scene. His first opera, Oberto, appeared in 1839. Wagner, born the same year, did not have his first success until 1842 with Rienzi. Rossini, of course, was retired; his last opera, Guillaume Tell, had been first staged on 3 August 1829.

23 June 2021
Progress continues. Since last posting I have edited texts of Donizetti’s operas from 1830 (Imelda de’ Lambertazzi, Il diluvio universale, Anna Bolena, I pazzi per progetto), 1831 (Gianni di Parigi, Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali, Francesca di Foix), and two from 1832 (L’elisir d’amore, Ugo, Conte di Parigi). Next are two more obscurities from 1832 (Fausta and Sancia di Castiglia) and then Lucrezia Borgia (1833).

7 June 2021
Today I gave up working on the 1829 one-act farce Giovedì Grasso and posted it as is. There are a few scenes in Neapolitan, which are always a problem. I did what I could, but probably got a lot wrong. Next in line, Elizabetta al Castello di Kenilworth, also from 1829, a story of Elizabethan court intrigue with an unexpected ending.

4 June 2021
Reviewed and reposted three more libretti, Gianni di Calais and two successive operas set in exotic India, Alina, regina di Golconda, and Il paria. All three date to 1828.

2 June 2021
Formatted and edited the next four Donizetti libretti: Otto mesi in due ore (1827, rev. later), Olivo e Pasquale (1827), Il borgomastro di Saardam (1827), and L’esule di Roma (1828). Next up is Gianni di Calais, an “opera semi-seria.” The plot here is not based on the Siege of Calais in 1346 during the Hundred Years’ War. That is dealt with in L’assedio di Calais * (1836), which will eventually be put into readable shape.

The deadline for committing to the 2022 Wagner cycle in Leipzig approaches. I think it will be worth it.

19 May 2021
Elvida, a one-act melodrama by Donizetti edited and posted today. Starting work on Otto mesi in due ore, first performed in 1827.

18 May 2021
Revised and formatted Alahor in Granada posted today in Donizetti.

17 May 2021
I reposted my Orlando furioso summary and timelines after some serious revisions. Meanwhile I added a translation of Chiara e Sarafina to my Donizetti pages as well as revised and formatted Emilia di Liverpool. There remains a lot to do to put these libretto translations into useful shape. Many of them are actually posted in rough form awaiting completion and editing.

I just found out that I can still get tickets to the complete cycle of 13 Wagner operas in Leipzig, June-July 2022. Very excited.

January 2021
My version of Ludovico Ariosto’s vast epic romance Orlando Furioso, a stanza-by-stanza reduction to English prose and the large-format synoptic chart tracing the major personages and events in time are now posted on the Literature page.

The next step will be a briefer summary of Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato.