Ventaglio, Il (‘The Fan’)
- Jesse Rosenberg
Commedia per musica by Pietro Raimondi to a libretto by Domenico Gilardoni after Carlo Goldoni’s play; Naples, Teatro Nuovo, 22 January 1831.
Although Gilardoni transferred the setting from Lombardy to Naples, the broad outlines of Goldoni’s plot are respected. Don Evaristo (tenor), in love with Donna Candida (mezzo-soprano), secretly purchases a new fan to replace the one she has accidentally broken. The busybody shopkeeper Susanna (mezzo-soprano) is curious to know for whom the fan is intended, but Evaristo evades her questions; later, observed from a distance by Susanna, he entrusts it to the peasant girl Palmetella (soprano), asking her to present it to Candida. Concluding that the fan was intended for Palmetella, Susanna rushes to report what she has witnessed to the innkeeper Coronato (bass) and the cobbler Crespino (tenor), whose bitter rivalry over Palmetella constitutes the principal subplot of the opera; they now direct their ire towards Evaristo. Susanna also spreads the rumour to Palmetella’s brother Moracchio (bass), who forbids her to leave their house, thus thwarting her mission, and to Candida, who is devastated by Evaristo’s apparent betrayal. Further complications arise when the Count (baritone) offers both to mediate in the Crespino-Coronato rivalry over Palmetella (only to decide that he wishes to marry her himself) and to intercede with Candida’s aunt Geltrude (contralto) on behalf of his friend the Baron (tenor), who wishes to marry Candida. The fan runs like a connecting thread through all the twists and turns of the complicated plot, arriving finally in the hands of Candida. Evaristo is united with Candida, Palmetella with Crispino, Coronato with Susanna and the Count with Geltrude; all join in a chorus of praise for the fan, which has been the source of such confusion and hilarity....