Dramma giocoso in two acts
Libretto by Angelo Anelli, based upon the eponymous play by Luigi Mosca
Premiere: Venice, 22nd May 1813, Teatro San Benedetto
Stage director, set and costume design
Vocal and music coach
Ilona Mataradze (16, 19, 21)
Yolanda Marín (24, 27)
Gabriel Urrutia (16, 19, 21)
Aldo Heo (24, 27)
Pablo Martín Reyes
Asude Karayavuz (16, 19, 21)
Veronika Viatkina (24, 27)
Aldo Heo (16, 19, 21)
Gabriel Urrutia (24, 27)
Pablo Conesa, José Dopateo
L'italiana in Algeri constitutes a watershed event in the prolific production of Gioachino Rossini. In this work, the genius of Pesaro delves into the subgenre of opera buffa, injecting new life into 19th century comic opera. L'italiana was an immediate success. The score bubbles with dynamism and freshness, startling the spectator with its daring rhythm, the impetuous explosiveness of itsconcertanti, and the richness of the instrumentation. These, along with other innovative composition techniques developed by the young musician for opera buffa reached their zenith in later works such as Il turco in Italia (1814), Il barbiere di Siviglia (1816), and La Cenerentola (1817).
The origins of L'italiana in Algeri can be traced back to spring, 1813, when the owner of the Teatro San Benedetto in Venice gave Rossini an urgent commission for an opera. With only one month to spare before the premiere, Rossini immediately went to work on Angelo Anelli's libretto, which had been used five years earlier by Luigi Mosca for an opera that was presented at La Scala. The plot is based on the legend of the beautiful Roxelana, the favorite slave of Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Although it has been demonstrated that Roxelana (the analogous character in the opera is Isabella) was actually Ukrainian, prior legend had it that she was of Italian origin. In 1520 she was sold to Suleiman (represented in the opera by the character Mustafa) in Istanbul as a slave. In time she became his favorite slave and later wife.
The story takes place in Algeria. Mustafa, Bey (governor) of Algeria, is sick of his wife Elvira so he asks one of his captains to find him an Italian concubine. A storm washes a boat ashore on which the young Isabella is travelling in search of her fiancé Lindoro, who has been kidnapped by the corsairs. When she is introduced to Mustafa, she finds out that Lindoro has been pressed into service as a slave to the Bey. Mustafa is overcome by the girl's beauty and he begins to court her. Isabella is unimpressed with Mustafa's grotesque gallantry and she begins to make fun of him while planning an escape with Lindoro. To this end, she names Mustafa her "Pappataci," convincing him that in Italy this title is held only by those privileged few who "never get angry with the weaker sex." The Bey enthusiastically agrees to undergo the ceremony, which consists of eating and drinking merrily without paying attention to what is happening around him. This situation is used by Bella, Lindoro, and their friends to flee to Italy. When the naïve Mustafa realizes that he has been tricked, he resigns himself to his fate, seeking comfort in the arms of his wife Elvira.