- William Ashbrook
Tragedia lirica in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Giacomo Sacchèro after Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges libretto for Halévy’s La reine de Chypre (1841); Naples, Teatro S Carlo, 18 January 1844.
In Venice, the approaching marriage between Caterina (soprano) and Gerardo (tenor), a young Frenchman, is suspended when Mocenigo (bass) announces that she has been selected the bride of Lusignano (baritone), King of Cyprus. Gerardo hopes to persuade her to run off with him, but she refuses, having been told that her beloved will be slain if they attempt an elopement. In Cyprus, Mocenigo, now the Venetian ambassador, plots a rebellion to overthrow Lusignano and win the island for Venice. Gerardo’s life is saved by Lusignano in the resulting mêlée. Ironically, the former is unaware that his rescuer is the man on whom he has sworn vengeance, while the king does not know that this is the man for whom Caterina has been pining. When they realize they both love Caterina, they sing a duet of friendship (‘Sì, dell’ardir degl’empi’). When next Caterina and Gerardo meet, she is Queen of Cyprus and he is enrolled in the Knights Hospitaler, come to defend Lusignano, who is being poisoned by his enemies. Hearing of Gerardo’s victory, the dying Lusignano confides the Cypriots to Caterina’s care....