Opera Scotland

Arlecchino Arlecchino, oder Die Fenster; Harlequin, or The Windows


Ferruccio Busoni (born Empoli, 1 April 1866; died Berlin, 27 July 1924)


The Composer


Original, using elements of Italy's traditional Commedia dell' Arte.



First Performance: Zurich (Stadttheater), 11 May 1917.

First Performance in UK: Glyndebourne, 25 June 1954.

First Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King's Theatre), 30 August 1960.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Busoni based his opera on the model of the eighteenth century intermezzo, where the short comic scenes were played between the acts of serious pieces. In his case, he was working on a version of the Faust legend, so was initially attracted to sixteenth century German puppet theatre, before adopting the Italian model. In keeping with that idea, Busoni's music is an eclectic mix of parodies of styles from the baroque to the modern.



Arlecchino, a rogue (baritone)

Ser Matteo del Sarto, a Master Tailor (bass-baritone)

Annunziata, his wife (silent role)

Cospicuo, a priest (baritone)

Bombasto, a doctor (bass)

Colombina, Arlecchino's wife (mezzo-soprano)

Leandro, a cavalier (tenor)


Plot Summary

Arlecchino is in the middle of an affair with Annunziata, but needs to distract her husband from his activities. He persuades him that the town is under siege. The priest and doctor, surprised by this news, which they know to be false, head for the inn. Instructed by Arlecchino (in disguise as a recruiting sergeant), Matteo goes off to do his military service. When Arlecchino is then scolded by his wife for his constant infidelities, he pretends to be contrite. As soon as he has left, Colombina is herself besieged by Leandro, who pays court to her in an extravagant manner. Arlecchino comes back and attacks him, beating him unconscious. Colombina has meantime escaped to the inn, to be rescued by the abbot and doctor. The trio emerge from the inn to find the unconscious Leandro in the gutter. They take him away to be treated at the infirmary. This now leaves the coast clear for Arlecchino to elope with Annunziata, so when Matteo returns, having discovered that his military service was a fiction, his house is deserted.

The Cast

 Matteo's wife
 a rogue
 a doctor
 Arlecchino's wife
 a priest
 a cavalier
Ser Matteo del Sarto
 a Master Tailor

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