Opera Scotland

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


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


Enrico Golisciani.





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

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

First Performance in Scotland: To be confirmed.

Scottish Opera premiere: 13 february 1980.



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.



Count Gil (baritone)

Susanna, his wife (soprano)

Sante, their servant (silent)


Plot Summary

Perhaps the infrequency of performance of this delightful little work arises from a perceived requirement to attach a government health warning to the outside of the programme.

Count Gil is convinced that his lovely 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
 a manservant
 Gil's wife

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