Pia de’ Tolomei (‘Pia of Tolomei’)
- William Ashbrook
(‘Pia of Tolomei’)
Tragedia lirica in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano after Bartolomeo Sestini’s novella, Pia de’ Tolomei, in turn after Dante Alighieri ’s narrative poem Commedia, part 2: Purgatorio; Venice, Teatro Apollo, 18 February 1837.
The opera is set in the 13th century. Ghino (tenor) lusts after his sister-in-law Pia (soprano). When she rejects him, he lies to his brother Nello (baritone) that she has been unfaithful. Imprisoned, Pia is secretly visited by her brother Rodrigo (mezzo-soprano); Nello believes her visitor was her lover, and when his suspicions seem to be confirmed he convinces himself that Pia deserves to die. Wounded in battle and dying, Ghino confesses his deceit and reveals the true identity of Pia’s nocturnal visitor. Too late to overturn his orders, Nello reaches the prison and discovers that Pia has already drunk the poison. She dies, urging peace between the warring parties of Guelph and Ghibelline....