Opera Scotland

Count Ory Le Comte Ory

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

Text
Eugène Scribe and Charles Gaspard Delestre-Poirson

Source
Play (1816) by the authors, based on a medieval ballad.

Premières
First performance: Paris (Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique), 20 August 1828.
First UK performance: London (King’s Theatre, Haymarket), 28 February 1829.
First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 23 August 1954.
Scottish Opera première: N/A.

Background
The original medieval tale is essentially a bawdy farce, and while the authors modify it a bit, it is the wonderful subtlety of Rossini’s music that lifts Count Ory to another plane altogether. Indeed, stagings that treat the piece essentially in farcical fashion tend to fall rather flat. Ory needs to be performed with a sense of style, rather as the best works of Offenbach do. Its popularity seems to have declined in recent years, since the restoration of Il viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Rheims), an astonishing occasional piece Rossini composed for the Coronation season, to be performed by a miraculous, and large, cast of virtuoso singers. Assuming it would never be performed again, Rossini recycled much of the music with great success for the new story line, the climax of which is a glorious trio as Ory attempts to seduce Adèle in the dark, not realising that Isolier, there for the same purpose, keeps getting in the way.

Main Characters
Le Comte Ory, a young nobleman (tenor)
Le Gouverneur, Tutor to the Count (bass)
Isolier, page to the Count (mezzo-soprano)
Raimbaud, a friend of the Count (baritone)
Adèle, Comtesse de Formoutiers (soprano)
Ragonde, custodian of the Castle of Formoutiers (contralto)

Plot Summary
The Crusades are in full swing and Adèle and her ladies have been abandoned by her brother and his colleagues who have gone to fight in the Holy Land. The ladies take a vow of chastity and lock themselves in their castle. As the opera starts, five years have passed, and a holy hermit has appeared outside the castle, dispensing remedies. He and his companion are Count Ory, a notorious young rake, and his friend Raimbaud. They have absconded from home with the intention of paying court to the ladies, but Ory’s tutor and page are in hot pursuit. Isolier also wishes to gain access to the castle, since he loves Adèle, his cousin. He reveals to Ory that he plans to disguise himself as a woman on pilgrimage. When Adèle comes out to consult the hermit, Ory tells her that her sense of unhappiness can only be cured by having a love affair. Just as he is about to follow her to the castle his identity is exposed by the arriving tutor. Word comes of the imminent return of the Crusaders, so the Count and his men retreat to make plans for an immediate assault. That evening, the Countess and her companions are interrupted by a band of holy women who beg shelter from the storm raging outside, and from the attentions of the dreaded Ory. They are admitted, and are left to recover while the ladies retire for the night. The pilgrims are Ory and his friends, using Isolier’s scheme, who promptly discover the wine cellar and get very drunk. Ory’s further attempts at seduction are foiled by the return of the Crusaders.

The Cast

Alice
 a peasant girl
Count Ory
 a dissolute young nobleman
Countess Adèle
 of Formoutiers
Court Lady
 
First Chevalier
 Ory's companion
Gouverneur
 Ory's tutor
Isolier
 Ory's page
Ragonde
 housekeeper at Formoutiers Castle
Raimbaud
 a friend of Ory
Second Chevalier
 Ory's companion
Young Noble
 a friend of Ory

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