Rita and Susanna Double Bill
Rita by Gaetano Donizetti (Sung in English) Il segreto di Susanna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (Sung in Italian with English surtitles)
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Rita by Gaetano Donizetti (Sung in English)
Il segreto di Susanna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (Sung in Italian with English surtitles)
This duo of one act comedic operas presents a glorious representation of married life in one form or another – each with their own dark shadows lurking in the background.
Rita, the somewhat tyrannical inn-owner and wife of Peppe is shocked by the return of her former husband Gasparo whom she had thought dead by drowning (he had run away to far-off lands). Gasparo is back to acquire Rita’s death certificate so he can remarry – because he, in turn, thought she had died. In the middle is poor Peppe who wants out, and perhaps Gasparo’s return provides the opportunity? The opera is a comedy of deceit and ill-manners (it was originally called The Beaten Husband which tells you something of Rita’s inclinations) but it glitters with Donizetti’s trademark vivacity, formed around eight core musical ‘numbers’ connected by spoken dialogue. The opera has, in the past few decades, become one of the most frequently performed of Donizetti’s short operas.
Il segreto di Susanna (Susanna’s Secret) is a simple comedy of confusions. Conte Gil returns home to the smell of tobacco – and suspects his beautiful wife Susannah has a lover. The outrageous ways in which Gil seeks to discover the existence of another man whilst his wife tries desperately, with the help of their servant, to conceal her real secret, produce a riotous evening suffused with some absolutely gorgeous music. Wolf-Ferrari shot to fame with this perfect little opera and it remains a popular part of the repertoire across the world.
We welcome two brilliant young directors to If Opera for this double bill, Lysanne van Overbeek and Daisy Brown, who are joined by the current Mackerras Fellow at ENO, conductor Olivia Clarke - all of who make their debut with If Opera this year.