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Turco in Italia, Il (‘The Turk in Italy’)locked

  • Richard Osborne

Extract

Dramma buffo in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Felice Romani after Caterino Mazzolà;’s Il turco in Italia, set by Franz Seydelmann (1788, Dresden); Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 14 August 1814.

The poet Prosdocimo (bass) is in search of a subject for a comedy drawn from real life. At a gypsy camp near Naples he encounters Zaida (soprano) who, as a slave girl in the Erzèrum harem, once loved the prince Selim (bass) but was forced to flee after slanders by jealous rivals had led Selim to sentence her to death. The poet tells Zaida that a Turkish prince will soon arrive and that news of her continued fidelity to Selim can then be sent to Turkey. In fact, the prince is Selim himself. To the delight of the poet, whose plot is badly in need of incident and intrigue, the first girl Selim sees and falls for is the shrewish Fiorilla (soprano), wife of the irascible and frustrated Don Geronio (bass), whose skirmishes with Fiorilla are abetted by his friend, the lady-killing Don Narciso (tenor). During the remainder of the first act the poet takes increasing delight in events: the flirting of Selim and Fiorilla, the anger of Geronio and Narciso, the bedlam that ensues when Selim and Zaida finally meet, recognize one another, and are discovered in an affectionate embrace by the remainder of the company....

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