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Adelaide di Borgogna (‘Adelaide of Burgundy’)locked

  • Richard Osborne

Extract

Dramma in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Giovanni Schmidt ; Rome, Teatro Argentina, 27 December 1817.

The setting is 10th-century Italy (as in Sartorio’s Adelaide ). Lotario, the King of Italy, has been murdered by Berengario (bass). Lotario’s wife, Adelaide (soprano), has survived but is under siege in a fortress waiting for a promised intervention by Ottone (contralto), the German King Otto I, who has a longstanding treaty with the peoples of Italy. In the opera’s first concerted number, Adelaide rejects Berengario’s sly suggestion that his son Adelberto (tenor) should marry Adelaide in return for her restoration to Lotario’s throne. Ottone arrives and is also offered false peace terms, this time by the wily Adelberto. In the Act 1 finale Ottone finds himself immured in the fortress. At the start of Act 2, the fortress is still under siege, though Ottone has fled to rally forces that will eventually rout Berengario. Apart from the closing victory arias by Adelaide and Ottone, Act 2 is notable for the development of Adelberto’s character, caught between his military duties, his growing love for the widowed Adelaide, and his love for his mother, Eurice (mezzo-soprano). Fearful for her husband’s life, Eurice has thrown confusion into his plans and Adelberto’s by proposing a truce and the peaceful exchange of Adelaide and Berengario under Ottone’s auspices. But the plan only causes further confusion and the opera ends with the defeat of Berengario and the crowning of Ottone as the new king. Despite the somewhat grey atmosphere of feudal militarism and the relative anachronism of the ...

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