Opera Scotland

Pietra del paragone La pietra del paragone; The Touchstone

Music
Gioachino Rossini (born Pesaro, 29 February 1792; died Paris, 13 November 1868)

Text
Luigi Romanelli

Source
Original

Premieres
First performance: Milan (Teatro alla Scala), 26 September 1812.
First UK performance: London (St Pancras Town Hall), 19 March 1963.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 7 September 1982.
Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

Background
Rossini’s first opera for La Scala has rather more depth to it than the farcical comedies he had produced in Venice. The plot is quite complicated, but also takes a savagely satirical view of the Count’s coterie of admirers. The music contains several funny sections, including spoof Turkish references, while the emotional depth of the lyrical music for Asdrubale and Clarice is also quite striking. The opera contains features which he would use again and develop in later works such as L’Italiana and La cenerentola. The storm is an idea revived in Il barbiere di Siviglia and elsewhere, and the overture would appear again the following year in Tancredi.

Characters
Donna Fulvia (soprano)
Baronessa Aspasia (mezzo-soprano)
Marchesa Clarice (mezzo-soprano)
Cavaliere Giocondo (tenor)
Conte Asdrubale (bass)
Pacuvio, a poet (baritone)
Macrobio, a journalist (bass)
Fabrizio, Asdrubale’s servant (bass)

Plot Summary
The fawning admirers who surround him bore wealthy Count Asdrubale. He wishes to marry and is pursued by three willing widows. He puts them to a test to determine their suitability. He disguises himself as a Turk and claims to be the Count’s creditor, and that the Count is therefore bankrupt. He commences the process of sequestration of the Count’s property. Two of the ladies prepare to leave, along with the poet and journalist. Only Clarice and Giocondo remain loyal. Clarice, in her turn tests him by disguising herself as her soldier brother who has come to his sister’s rescue. Faced with the imminent departure of Clarice, Asdrubale realises that he does love her, and all ends happily.

The Cast

Baronessa Aspasia
 a well-connected widow, in pursuit of the Count for his money
Cavaliere Giocondo
 a Poet and friend to the Count
Count Asdrubale
 a wealthy young aristocrat, very distrustful of women
Donna Fulvia
 a well-connected widow, in pursuit of the Count for his money
Fabrizio
 Count Asdrubale's butler and aide
Macrobio
 a journalist and critic, associated with Baroness Aspasia
Marchesa Clarice
 a well-connected widow, genuinely in love with Count Asdrubale
Pacuvio
 a struggling poet, associated with Donna Fulvia

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