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date: 21 November 2019

Re, Il (‘The King’)locked

  • Julian Budden

Extract

(‘The King’)

Novella in three scenes by Umberto Giordano to a libretto by Giovacchino Forzano ; Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 12 January 1929.

The action takes place in the 18th century. Rosalina (soprano), a miller’s daughter, is causing grave concern to her family and her betrothed, Colombello (tenor), by her giddy behaviour and refusal to speak when spoken to. A priest (tenor), a lawyer (bass) and a female astrologer (mezzo-soprano) are asked for their opinion; but none can help. At length the girl herself explains: while listening to the song of a blackcap beneath a tree she saw a royal procession pass by. According to an ancient legend this means that she is destined to be a royal bride. Perplexed, the family decide to seek advice from the King (baritone). His answer is that Rosalina must spend the night in his palace. Her parents are suitably shocked, but dare not offer resistance. That evening Rosalina is decking herself for the wedding and musing on her altered fortunes (‘In un mattin sereno’), when the King enters and divests himself of his royal robes, to be revealed as old, bald and wizened. Rosalina is only too thankful to return to the arms of Colombello, having learnt the valuable lesson that ‘’tis distance lends enchantment to the view’....

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