(‘The Chinese Hero’)
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio , first set by Giuseppe Bonno (1752, Vienna). The title Narbale was used for a later version of this libretto.
During an insurrection which forced the Chinese emperor, Livanio [Li-vang], into exile, his son, Svenvango [Swen-vang], was saved by Leango [Le-ang], who wrapped his own infant son in the royal garments and left him for the mob. Later, as regent, Le-ang raised the royal heir as his own child under the name of Siveno [Si-veng].
Si-veng and Lisinga [Li-sing], a captive Tartar princess, are in love. Li-sing is reminded by her sister, Ulania [U-lan], that Si-veng is not only a commoner but also her enemy: for these reasons, U-lan claims, she will leave Minteo [Min-ti], Si-veng’s friend and a mandarin in the Chinese army. Si-veng and Li-sing despair when her father sends word that she must marry the unknown heir to the Chinese throne. With this opportunity for an alliance with the Tartars, Le-ang feels ready to reveal Si-veng’s identity; Si-veng, however, announces that the populace call for Le-ang himself as emperor. Le-ang’s response leads Li-sing to suspect that Si-veng is indeed the heir....