Maria di Rohan (‘Maria of Rohan’)
- William Ashbrook
(‘Maria of Rohan’)
Melodramma tragico in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano after Lockroy and Badon’s play Un duel sous le Cardinal de Richelieu; Vienna, Kärntnertortheater, 5 June 1843.
The original cast included Eugenia Tadolini (Maria) and Giorgio Ronconi (Chevreuse). For the Paris première of the work, at the Théâtre Italien in November 1843, Donizetti made a number of revisions in the score, adding a cabaletta for Grisi in Act 3 (‘Benigno il cielo arridere’) and altering the role of Gondì from a tenor to a mezzo-soprano en travesti.
When Act 1 opens, set in the reign of Louis XIII, Maria (soprano) has secretly married the Duke de Chevreuse (baritone), who has killed Cardinal Richelieu’s nephew in a duel. She begs Riccardo, Count de Chalais (tenor), her former lover, to intercede on Chevreuse’s behalf; his willingness to do so reawakens her former love. One of the courtiers, Armando di Gondì (mezzo-soprano), makes a slighting reference to Maria, whereupon Riccardo challenges him to a duel. Chevreuse, released from prison, arrives to thank his friend and intercessor, and when he hears of the impending duel with Gondì offers to be Riccardo’s second....