Mala vita (‘Underworld’)
- Julian Budden
Opera in three acts by Umberto Giordano to a libretto by Nicola Daspuro based on a story by Salvatore Di Giacomo ; Rome, Teatro Argentina, 21 February 1892 (revised version, as Il voto, Milan, Teatro Lirico, 10 November 1897).
Act 1 is set in a square in the Basso Porto district of Naples. Vito Amante (tenor), a dyer, suffers from tuberculosis. Encouraged by his neighbours Marco (bass) and Nunzia (mezzo-soprano) he vows to the Saviour to rescue a woman from a life of sin in return for a cure (‘O Gesù mio d’amore’), much to the distress of his mistress Amalia (mezzo-soprano), wife of the loose-living Annetiello (baritone). His choice falls on a local prostitute, Cristina (soprano), whom he promises to marry. When Act 2 opens, Amalia, alone in her house, determines to win her lover back. She sends for Cristina and attempts to bribe her into giving up the marriage and even threatens her with a knife, but to no avail. With Vito himself she is more successful; and once more he declares his love for her. In Act 3, in the square, Vito prepares to join his companions, including Annetiello, on a visit to the song festival at Piedigrotta. Sorrowfully Cristina returns to her old life....