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date: 17 May 2021

Finta pazza, La (‘The Pretended Madwoman’)locked

  • Lorenzo Bianconi


(‘The Pretended Madwoman’)

Drama in a prologue and three ‘azioni’ (‘protasi’, ‘epitasi’, ‘catastrofe’) by Francesco Sacrati to a libretto by Giulio Strozzi ; Venice, Teatro Novissimo, 1641 (libretto dedicated 14 January 1641).

The action takes place on the island of Skiros. The Greek ambassadors Ulisse [Ulysses] (alto) and Diomede [Diomedes] (tenor) seek the young Achille [Achilles] (soprano), who, in order to escape the Trojan war, has been hidden by his mother Tetide [Thetis] (tenor) and disguised as a girl in the women’s quarters of Licomede [Lycomedes] (bass), king of the island, thereby angering Giunone [Juno] (soprano) and Minerva (soprano). Achilles, secretly in love with Lycomedes’ daughter Deidamia (soprano), is impatient to join the warriors preparing to lay siege to Troy. Following the intentions of Giove [Jupiter] (bass) and Vittoria [Victory] (soprano), Ulysses publicly exposes Achilles through a subterfuge. In Act 2 Achilles successfully challenges Ulysses and Diomedes on an issue concerning love and receives an enchanted spear from Vulcano [Vulcan] (bass); Vulcan is reprimanded by Venere [Venus] (soprano), who supports the Trojans. Deidamia’s Nurse (tenor) tries to comfort her, but Deidamia is in despair at the thought of Achilles abandoning her for war and tries to dissuade him by pretending to be mad with grief. In Act 3 Deidamia confesses her betrothal to Achilles to her father, who believes she is really mad and has her put in chains. Persevering in her feigned raving, she finally succeeds in touching Achilles’ heart, and he asks for her hand in marriage. Amid general rejoicing the warriors embark for Troy, while a chorus of Celestial Minds bears heavenwards the chains which had bound Deidamia, the ‘pretended madwoman’ of the title....

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Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana
Isola Bella, Borromeo private collection