Donizetti : La romanzesca e l´uomo nero

2000 (Audio)Director: David Perry

  • Elisabetta Scano (Antonia)
  • Adriana Cicogna (Chiarina)
  • Alfonso Antoniozzi (Conde)
  • Apul Austin Kelly (Carlino)
  • Elena Monti (Trappolina)Archivos para descarga:

Aporte de Jose Manuel
The Academy of St. Martin in the FieldsWhen this opera was performed in 1831, the sung items were linked by passages of spoken dialogue. Since no full libretto appears to survive, these passages of dialogue are now lost. And since the action would seem to be significantly changed from that of the ultimate source-play, Augusto Bon’s La donna dei romanzi (1819), the following account of the plot can be no more than conjectural. No claim can be made that it reproduces the authentic action that was performed in 1831.

The scene is laid in the palazzo of the Count, who has just returned from a two-year trip with a friend, Baron Ruperti. They have decided to seal their friendship with an alliance between their families. It is therefore planned that Carlino, Baron Ruperti’s only son, should marry Antonia, the Count’s only daughter.

Before leaving home, the Count has engaged a governess, Trappolina, to take charge of Antonia’s education, and had summoned home from the convent where she was at school his orphaned niece, Chiarina, intending that the two girls should keep each other company. They have soon discovered, however, that they have little in common. Antonia, a great reader of romantic novels and poetry, lives in a totally unrealistic world of her own concocting; whereas Chiarina is open and confiding, but also very naïve, immature and impetuous.

Trappolina, far from showing herself a responsible governess, has proved a scheming adventuress. To bring Antonia under her sway, she has openly encouraged her romantic excesses. At her governess’s urging, Antonia has had Giappone, the Count’s faithful steward, demolish two ancient but perfectly serviceable dovecots at the bottom of the garden, and construct a Gothic ruin in their place. There she, calling herself Atala, and Trappolina, styling herself Ines, resort every evening to commune with Nature.

Trappolina has found an ally in the household in the elderly, hypochondriac and unwashed tutor, Tommaso. Tommaso never stops complaining that the Count is an ungenerous employer, but these are the lamentations of a hypocrite. Originally a barber by trade, he has become ambitious and grasping. Calling himself ‘il Solitario’ (‘the Solitary’), he has gained an ascendancy over Antonia by passing himself off as a metaphysical philosopher. An orator whom one understands less as one listens to him more, he continually speaks in elaborate but meaningless metaphors.

Tommaso, in turn, has tried to turn the Count’s absence to his advantage by introducing his equally unscrupulous nephew, Filidoro, into the household. Filidoro, also a barber, has ingratiated himself with Antonia by calling himself ‘l’Uomo Nero’ (‘the Black Man’), a person of mysterious and secret background. Constantly muffled up in black clothes and board-brimmed, black-plumed hat, he claims to be bound by an oath not to reveal the mystery of his birth for fifteen years, one of which conveniently still has to run.

Carlino, as a result of his father’s friendship with the Count, is a frequent visitor to the house. But he is repelled by Antonia’s romantic fatuities, and has fallen in love with, or at least becomes temporarily attracted to, Chiarina. He has therefore learned with dismay of the plan that he should marry Antonia, and hears with even greater distress that the ceremony is likely to be imminent. The Count, increasingly irate as he is told of Antonia’s romantic excesses, sends Trappolina and Tommaso to inform her that she must marry Carlino the very next day. She, just as unattracted to Carlino as he to her, throws herself for ‘protection’ into the arms of Filidoro.

With the aid of Trappolina and Tommaso, Antonia and Filidoro plan to elope. They hope to gain assistance from another of the household servants, Nicola, and instruct him to have a post-chaise waiting for them that night half a mile from the house. Despite Antonia’s enthusiasm for living in romantic poverty, she voices no objection when Filidoro and Tommaso suggest taking her jewellery with them.

Filidoro is as yet unknown to the Count, and must be hidden until the moment for the elopement arrives. Unwisely he is entrusted to the care of Nicola, who, really out to feather his own nest, shuts him in a cupboard in Chiarina’s bedroom, intending to take his place in the dark and to abscond with a large part of Antonia’s jewels.

Complications multiply. Chiarina is being pursued by a fatuous young suitor named Fedele, but when he finds that she has a man concealed in her room, he turns his attentions elsewhere – to Antonia. Chiarina releases Filidoro, who, ever the opportunist, forgets all about his vaunted passion for Antonia and sets about pursuing Chiarina. She, for her part, remains in mortal fear of this ‘black man’.

It is time for the elopement to take place – with Nicola impersonating Filidoro. There is, however, no honour or trust between thieves. Filidoro, believing that Tommaso, Trappolina and Nicola are in league to outwit him, turns informant and buys his pardon from the Count by revealing all that is afoot. As a result the fleeing party is apprehended and justice is meted out to all. Tommaso, Trappolina and Nicola are sent packing, while Antonia is at last brought to see the error of her ways when she learns that Filidoro, far form being a man of mystery, is a mere barber. She is given an unwelcome choice: either to marry Fedele, or to be banished from her father’s home. She pleads against marriage to Fedele, and Carlino, coming to her aid, tells Fedele he must remain celibate. Antonia makes a solemn promise that she will renounce all romantic aberrations, and clearly gains her father’s pardon. Whether or not she marries Carlino remains unclear. It is also uncertain what happens to Chiarina: perhaps she is sent back to her convent until she grows up a little. Filidoro philosophically accepts his fate: that he must revert to his calling as a barber.