Opera Scotland

Segreto di Susanna Il segreto di Susanna; Susanna's Secret

Tours by decade

1960s - 2 tours

1960 - Glyndebourne Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra
1965 - New Opera Group
Fully Staged, reduced orchestration

2010s - 1 tour

2019 - Scottish Opera
Concert performance

Tours by location

Music

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (born Venice, 12 January 1876; died Venice, 21 January 1948)

Text

Enrico Golisciani.

Source

Original.

 

Premieres

Premiere as Susannens Geheimnis (German translation by Max Kalbeck).

First Performance: Munich (Hoftheater), 4 December 1909.

First Performance in UK: London (Covent Garden), 11 July 1911.

First Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King's Theatre), 20 September 1960 (perhaps earlier).

Scottish Opera premiere: Venue tbc, 13 February 1980.

 

Background

Wolf-Ferrari loved Italian culture of the eighteenth century in general, and the work of Goldoni in particular. He trained in Munich, and was far more successful in Germany, where his operas were premiered in translation, than in Italy, His enthusiasm for things Italian went as far as adding his mother's Venetian name to that of his father. Several of his operas were based on Goldoni, most famously I quatro rusteghi, generally rendered into English as The School for Fathers. Susanna's Secret is slightly different - it is described as an intermezzo, lasts a mere forty minutes, and is consciouly modelled on the style of comic intermezzo produced by composers of the baroque period such as Pergolesi's Serva Padrona, with two singing characters and the mimed role of a comic servant. This work is delightfully frivolous, with an updating to the time of composition or slightly before.

There may be many operas that take a dramatically extreme view of humanity. However, surely only this one needs to be performed with an obligatory Government Health Warning.

 

Characters

Count Gil, aged thirty (baritone)

Countess Susanna, his wife, aged twenty (soprano)

Sante, their servant, aged fifty (silent)

 

Plot Summary

Count Gil is convinced that his lovely young wife, Susanna, is having an affair. He has glimpsed her outside, though he has not given her permission to go out alone. When he returns home he detects the faint smell of tobacco smoke! When he attempts to question her, his wife becomes evasive. Gil's suspicions increase. In a rage he leaves to go to his club. In her relief at being left in peace and quiet, Susanna collapses into a chair, and to help her relax, she lights a cigarette. But Gil has had second thoughts, and comes back straight away, in the hope of catching her in flagrante. The revelation of the truth comes as a relief to both parties, and the reconciliation is based on the idea that Gil will start to smoke too.

The Cast

Count Gil
 aged thirty
Countess Susanna
 Gil's wife, aged twenty
Sante
 a manservant, aged fifty

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