Opera Scotland

Pescatrici Le pescatrici; The Fisher-girls

Music

Franz Joseph Haydn (born Rohrau, 31 March 1732; died Vienna, 31 May 1809)

Text

Adapted, perhaps by the composer

Source

Libretto by Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793).

 

Premieres

First performance: Eszterháza, 16 September 1770.

First UK performance: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 24 August 1965.

First performance in Scotland: As above.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

Le pescatrici was created for a wedding celebration, and, apparently, regarded by Haydn as one of his best operas. It was greeted with delight on its appearance at the 1965 Edinburgh Festival and it seemed at the time as if that might be the catalyst for the successful revival of his hitherto neglected stage works. While the follow-up in 1967 had many enjoyable aspects, it did not stimulate further investigation, and forty years would pass before the Festival again experimented with a work by Haydn. Even Le pescatrici itself has not had the further exposure that might have been expected, although a 2009 staging at the Bampton Festival does seem to have drawn positive attention to the piece. It seems that the only thing to have hindered its further acceptance is the sad fact that several numbers had been lost and the piece appeared in an edition by the great Haydn scholar H C Robbins-Landon which involved an element of recomposition. To quote from his programme note: "The autograph of the music is no longer quite complete; some beginnings or ends of the arias and recitatives are missing, as is the middle part of Act II, but all the Finales, and all the central numbers - that is, those in which the character of the persons involved is determined - are extant, and our role is no more important in reconstructing the missing section than is that of an expert restorer of antique furniture for whom (as for us) the greatest praise can only be that the final result, the missing leg of the table, is indistinguishable from the rest."

 

Characters

Eurilda, brought up as a fisher-girl (contralto)

Lindoro, Prince of Salerio (bass)

Lesbina, Burlotto’s sister (soprano)

Burlotto, a fisherman (tenor)

Nerina, Frisellino’s sister (mezzo-soprano)

Frisellino, a fisherman (tenor)

Mastricco, an elderly fisherman, believed to be Eurilda’s father

 

Plot Summary

The plot combines a serious element - a princess rescued and hidden in infancy, brought up among the fisherfolk, and at last restored to her rightful place and marriage to her prince – with a witty foretaste of Così fan tutte to follow. The two fisher-girls provide an element of “ugly sisterhood” in the first plot, as they try to snare the prince who has come in search of his intended bride, whose identity is discovered when she faints on being shown the blood-stained dagger that was used to kill her father. The girls are then the dupes in the second plot, as their menfolk disguise themselves as aristocrats and are duly appalled to discover that they have immediate success in courting the girls. Naturally equilibrium is restored as Lindoro, Eurilda and Mastricco leave the fishing village behind.

The Cast

Burlotto
 a fisherman, Lesbina's brother
Eurilda
 supposed daughter of Mastricco
Frisellino
 a fisherman, brother of Nerina
Lesbina
 a fisher-girl, in love with Frisellino
Lindoro
 Prince of Soriento
Mastricco
 an old fisherman
Nerina
 a fisher-girl, in love with Burlotto

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