Donna del lago, La (‘The Lady of the Lake’)
- Richard Osborne
Melodramma in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola after Walter Scott ’s poem The Lady of the Lake; Naples, Teatro S Carlo, 24 October 1819.
The opera is set in 16th-century Scotland, in the reign of James V. The Highlanders, led by Douglas, the father of Ellen, the so-called Lady of the Lake, are in revolt against the king. Ellen loves the impetuous Malcolm Graeme but has been promised in marriage to one of her father’s confederates, the bellicose chieftain Roderick Dhu. Act 1 begins by picturesque Loch Katrine; peasants go about their work and a hunt is heard in the distance. A skiff approaches across the loch, rowed by Elena [Ellen] (soprano), singing one of the simplest and loveliest of Rossini cavatinas, ‘O mattutini albori!’. As she steps ashore she is met by the king, Giacomo [James] (tenor), separated from the hunt; he introduces himself as Uberto. He is greatly struck by Ellen’s beauty and accepts her offer of shelter; as they prepare to set out across the loch they express mutual tenderness in a duet. The hunt returns, framing the action (much as at the start of Act 2 of ...