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Occasione fa il ladro, L’ (‘Opportunity Makes a Thief’)locked

  • Richard Osborne

Extract

Burletta per musica in one act by gioachino rossini to a libretto by Luigi Prividali after Eugène Scribe ’s play Le prétendu par hasard, ou L’occasion fait le non (1810); Venice, Teatro S Moisè, 24 November 1812.

While a storm rages over a hostelry near Naples the ‘insolvent, egocentric, two-faced, wine-bibbing, womanizing man of the world’ Don Parmenione (baritone) and his wily servant, Martino (baritone), encounter Count Alberto (tenor). Alberto is on his way to Naples to take delivery of his bride-to-be, Berenice (soprano), whom he has never met but whose portrait he has been sent by her uncle. When Alberto’s comatose servant picks up the wrong luggage, Alberto leaves for Naples with Parmenione’s dirty laundry while Parmenione and Alberto are left with Alberto’s passport, papers, money and the portrait of Berenice, whom Parmenione resolves to pursue. Meanwhile Berenice has resolved to test her suitor’s charms by exchanging clothes with her maid Ernestina (soprano) and observing him from a distance. Alberto in fact treats the disguised Berenice with proper aristocratic condescension, though as he lacks luggage and a passport his credentials are in question, especially when Parmenione arrives posing as the Count. Berenice’s lightning cross-examination of Parmenione is very brilliant and has the merit of unmasking the old adventurer; and such is Alberto’s attachment to the ‘maid’ he is more than happy to offer her his hand in marriage. Touched by Alberto’s sincerity and angered by all-encircling confusions of identity, Berenice takes decisive steps to accept Alberto and sort things out once and for all. The opera is typical of the substantial one-act works Rossini wrote for the Teatro S Moisè. It has had a number of successful revivals including a Pesaro Festival production directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle....

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