(b New York, NY, Nov 24, 1934). American lyricist and director. Charnin graduated from Cooper Union in New York and began his career as an actor, appearing as a Jet in the original production of West Side Story. He first worked as a lyricist with Mary Rodgers on Hot Spot (1963), then focused on writing and directing for television, particularly variety shows, in the 1960s and 70s. In 1972, he won two primetime Emmy Awards for S’Wonderful, S’Marvelous, S’Gershwin. After his stage directorial debut in 1968, he went on to write (with Charles Strouse) and direct one of the longest running musicals in Broadway history, Annie (1977), for which he and Strouse won the Tony Award for Best Original Score. Charnin wrote the optimistic show to counteract the prevailing cynicism in the United States brought on by such events as the Vietnam War and Watergate. Its sequel, ...
Judith A. Sebesta
Libretto subject used in many periods. Its chief source is Pierre Corneille ’s tragedy Le Cid; earlier sources are the plays of Guillén de Castro y Bellvís (1569–1631), Las mocedades del Cid and Las hazañas del Cid, and popular Spanish ballads. All recount the exploits of Rodrigo (or Ruy) Diaz de Vivar, a Spanish warrior of the 11th century (called El Cid after the Arabic sidi, ‘lord’). Librettos on the subject have been written in Italian (as Il Cid, Il Cidde or Il gran Cid) and German (as Der Cid) as well as French (as Le Cid); some operas are entitled Cimene, Chimène or Rodrigue et Chimène.
The subject of Corneille’s play was rarely used by Italian librettists, perhaps because, even watered down, Chimène’s pursuit of vengeance against Rodrigue through most of the work made difficult the contriving of amorous encounters between them, as the genre required. A three-act libretto by Alborghetti had a few settings between ...
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio, first set by Antonio Caldara (1736, Vienna).
It was foretold that Astiage [Astyages], King of Media, would lose his throne to a descendant; consequently he exiled his son-in-law, Cambise [Cambyses], and ordered that his grandson, Cyrus, should be killed by Arpago [Harpagus], his adviser. Pitying the infant, Harpagus left him with the shepherd Mitridate [Mithridates] who raised Cyrus as his son, Alceo [Alcaeus]. 15 years later, when Harpagus confessed, his own son was executed.
(‘The Clemency of Titus’)
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio, first set by Antonio Caldara (1734, Vienna). The title Tito Vespasiano was used for a later version of this libretto.
Titus Vespasian, Emperor of Rome, has succeeded to the throne that his father, Vespasian, usurped from the Emperor Vitellius.
Libretto subject used in many periods. The story is based on historical figures and events recounted in Plutarch’s Lives and other ancient writings; William Shakespeare ’s play has been an influential source. Operas on the subject are also entitled Cleopatra regina d’Egitto, La morte di Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra. The story should be distinguished from those of other librettos treating an earlier episode in her life, in which Cleopatra is paired with Julius Caesar .
Set in 32
A term signifying ‘composition’, usually in reference to a dramatic poem to be set to music as a Serenata (opera). It occurs with particular frequency in the repertory of the Viennese court during the Baroque period. Componimenti da camera (or per camera) were written by Zeno, Pariati and Metastasio; ...
Bruce Alan Brown
(‘The Young Countess’)
Libretto by Carlo Goldoni , first set by Giacomo Maccari (1743, Venice); new version by Marco Coltellini , first set by Florian Leopold Gassmann (1770, Mährisch-Neustadt [now Uničov]).
Goldoni’s three-act commedia per musica features clever social criticism of the sort often seen in his spoken pieces. Lindoro, son of the rich Venetian merchant Pancrazio, has fallen in love with the Countess, presenting himself as a Milanese marquis, as she will not condescend to marry a tradesman. Her proud father, Count Baccellone Parabolano, approves the match, pending proof of Lindoro’s nobility. Pancrazio’s direct approach to the Count on behalf of his son is rudely rebuffed, so in the second act he impersonates, with studied affectation, the marquis’s many-titled father, Marquis Cavromano. Meanwhile, the Contessina offends Lindoro by favouring a (fictitious) proposition from a would-be cicisbeo, relayed by the Count’s boatman Gazzetta. In the final act, the undisguised Pancrazio shocks Baccellone with his claim to be the father of the groom, but the Count allows the ceremony to proceed, to avoid embarrassment in front of the guests....
(‘The Stone Guest’)
Libretto subject used chiefly in the 18th and 19th centuries. This was the most common Italian title for the Don Juan story; operas on the subject are also entitled Don Giovanni and Il dissoluto punito.
The first important literary source is Tirso de Molina’s play El burlador de Sevilla y Convidado de piedra (‘The Trickster of Seville, or The Stone Guest’), published in 1630. Spoken dramas on the story were produced by Molière (Don Juan, ou Le festin de pierre, 1665) and Goldoni (Don Giovanni Tenorio; o sia Il dissoluto, 1736), but the legend circulated more widely in fairground and carnival performances. In Italy these drew upon the characters of commedia dell’ arte, while in France they took the form of comédies en chansons, with improvised or popular songs interpolated into the rather simple plot. The stone guest of the title is the statue of the Commendatore [Commander]. Early in most tellings of the story (though not necessarily in the opening scene) the Commendatore, trying to protect his daughter from seduction or rape by Don Juan, is killed by the latter in a duel. In the final scene the Commendatore’s stone statue comes to life, accepts Don Juan’s invitation to dinner, appears at his house and drags the licentious and (usually) unrepentant, blaspheming nobleman to hell. Some version of the episodes involving the Commendatore, his daughter Donna Anna and her betrothed Don Ottavio (as these characters are named in many of the settings) is to be found in virtually all presentations. Other common features are Don Juan’s comic servant, who frequently sings an aria cataloguing his master’s many conquests; a peasant wedding in which Don Juan attempts to seduce the bride; and one or more previously seduced and abandoned ladies who continue to pursue him. In general, the story consists of a loosely connected string of incidents with little overall organization apart from that implicit in the opening and closing scenes with the Commendatore....
Mary Ann Parker
Libretto by Gioacchino Pizzi , first set by Niccolò Jommelli (1757, Rome).
The story is taken from Herodotus. The Persian princess Cratina tells Croesus, last king of Lydia, that his daughter Ariene has fallen in love with Ciro [Cyrus], betraying Prince Euriso, to whom she has been promised. Croesus vows to punish his daughter by death, while Cratina vows revenge on Cyrus, who has sworn his love to her. Euriso (disguised as Rodaspe) goes to Cyrus’s camp offering to trade Ariene for Cratina, but he refuses. Ariene is unable to convince Euriso that she is faithful.
In the second act Croesus and Euriso’s plot to assassinate Cyrus fails, and they are captured in the enemy camp as Croesus is about to murder Ariene. Sibari, Cyrus’s captain, reveals his love for Ariene, who remains faithful to her father and Euriso, and tries to rescue them.
As the third act begins, Cyrus plans to send Euriso, unarmed, into exile and is about to burn Croesus, who predicts that Cyrus will suffer the same fate. Ariene vows she will save her father or die with him. Cyrus allows Croesus to live, gives Ariene to Euriso and offers his love to Cratina....
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio, first set by Antonio Caldara (1731, Vienna). Versions of the libretto were also set as Alceste, Cleonice and Demetrio, rè della Siria.
Cleonice, newly crowned Queen of Syria, is urged by her people to choose a husband. She complains about this pressure to Olinto, a nobleman, who reveals his hopes to be the chosen king. Cleonice spurns him, however, because she secretly loves the commoner Alceste [Alcestes], of whom there has been no word since he fought beside her father, Alexander Balas, against the armies of Crete. Balas was slain in this battle, and it is suspected that Alcestes has met the same fate. Alcestes is in truth Demetrius, son of the former King of Syria, whose throne Balas usurped. His identity, however, is known only to his tutor, Fenicio, Olinto’s father. Alcestes’ sudden return incites Cleonice to insist upon no social barriers in her choice of consort. This granted, she still dismisses Alcestes, believing that she has now placed her personal desires ahead of her duty....