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date: 13 December 2019

Boccacciolocked

  • Andrew Lamb

Extract

Operette in three acts by Franz (von) Suppé; to a libretto by F. Zell and Richard Genée after a play by J. F. A. Bayard, A. de Leuven, Brunswick and V. A. de Beauplan, itself based on G. Boccaccio: Decameron; Vienna, Carltheater, 1 February 1879.

As the people of 14th-century Florence go to mass at S Maria Novella, the novelist Boccaccio (mezzo-soprano) disguises himself as a beggar in order to get close to Fiametta (soprano), daughter of the Duke of Tuscany and foster-daughter of the grocer Lambertuccio (baritone). Boccaccio likes to base his stories of amorous intrigue on real life, and his exploits and writings understandably scandalize the men of Florence, who are commonly depicted as cuckolds. They determine to rid themselves of him but, unable to find him, have to settle for burning his books. In Act 2, disguised as a peasant, Boccaccio arrives with his student friends at the adjoining premises of Lambertuccio and the cooper Lotteringhi (baritone); he persuades Lambertuccio that one of his trees is magic and uses this as cover for his friends Leonello (baritone) and Pietro (tenor) to make love to Lambertuccio’s and Lotteringhi’s wives, Beatrice (soprano) and Isabella (contralto), while Boccaccio himself makes love to Fiametta. In Act 3 a reception takes place to celebrate Fiametta’s forthcoming marriage to Pietro, who is really Prince of Palermo; Boccaccio has been commissioned to provide an entertainment. Fiametta is astonished to find the young man she loves is the notorious author, while the citizens of Florence are appalled at his presence. However, Boccaccio convinces them of the wit and humour of his writings, and the moral of his ...

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