Opera Scotland

Campanello di notte Il campanello di notte; The Night Bell

Music

Gaetano Donizetti (born Bergamo, 29 November 1797; died Bergamo, 8 April 1848)

Text

The composer.

Source

Vaudeville La sonnette de nuit by Brunswick, Mathieu-Barthélemy Troin and Victor Lhérie.

 

Premieres

First Performance: Naples (Teatro Nuovo), 1 June 1836.

First Performance in UK: London (Lyceum Theatre), 30 November 1837.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.

 

Background

After the intense seriousness of two of his greatest tragedies, Lucia di Lammermoor and Belisario, it is hardly a surprise that Donizetti switched to composing this delightfully inconsequential little comedy. In one act, lasting only an hour, it contains delightful sequences, including a patter duet for baritone and bass that is very much a foretaste of Don Pasquale. The role of Enrico is a challenging part for a baritone requiring the convincing portrayal of several character disguises, and was first sung by Giorgio Ronconi, who also created several very serious leading roles for Donizetti.

 

Characters

Don Annibale Pistacchio, an elderly apothecary (bass)

Serafina, his young wife (soprano)

Enrico, Serafina's former lover (baritone)

Spiridone, Don Annibale's servant (tenor)

Madama Rosa (mezzo-soprano)

 

Plot Summary

The plot hinges on the legal requirement for apothecaries to answer a summons to help at a medical emergency at any hour of day or night. Enrico is most seriously displeased at the news that his old flame, Serafina, has earlier in the day married wealthy old Don Annibale. As the wedding night approaches, Enrico decides to gain his revenge by ensuring that the old man's pleasure is at the least disrupted, if not destroyed altogether.

Enrico adopts three disguises in succession, all summoning the apothecary by means of ringing the Night Bell, and requiring prescriptions to be urgently made up. He starts as a fioppish Frenchman. This is followed by an opera singer with a vocal emergency that requires him to sing various operatic hits of the day. After the third impersonation, a doddery old man, whose lengthy prescription recital develops into a superb patter duet, the chemist's night is finally destroyed by a noisy outburst of fireworks that Enrico has planted.

The Cast

Don Annibale Pistacchio
 an elderly apothecary
Enrico
 
Madama Rosa
 
Serafina
 wife of Don Annibale
Spiridon
 a servant

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