Opera Scotland

Occasione fa il ladro L'Occasione fa il ladro; Opportunity Makes the Thief; Love's Luggage Lost

Music

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

Text

Luigi Prividali

Source

Play Le prétendu par hazard, ou L'occasion fait le larron (1810) by Eugène Scribe.

 

Premieres

First Performance: Venice (Teatro San Moisè), 24 November 1812

First Performance in UK: London (Little Theatre), 14 January 1929 (Marionette theatre).

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Centre for Contemporary Arts), 2 August 2017.

 

Background

L'occasione is the fourth of Rossini's early group of five one-act farces composed for the intimate Teatro San Moisè in Venice. In addition to the Scribe source, there is some resemblance to the classic Oliver Goldsmith comedy She Stoops to Conquer (1773), though it makes less of the potential opportunities for fun in the mistakes of identity.

The opera has received two major productions in the UK in recent decades. The first was at the Buxton Festival, the second at Opera North, when they devoted a season to one-act works, under the umbrella title of 'Eight Little Greats'. On that occasion this charming Rossini piece was given a nicely Shakespearian title, Love's Luggage Lost. It is a compactly plotted and good-natured comedy, matching off two couples successfully, with only two other characters, a servant and an uncle. There is plenty of attractive lyrical vocal writing, especially for Alberto and Berenice, while the orchestral players also have plenty to keep their interest. 

 

Characters

Don Parmenione, a gentleman on his travels (baritone)

Conte Alberto, betrothed to Berenice (tenor)

Martino, Alberto's servant (bass)

Don Eusebio, Berenice's uncle (tenor)

Berenice, a young lady  (soprano)

Ernestina, Berenice's friend (mezzo-soprano)

 

Plot Summary

The story opens at a country inn. A violent storm is raging, and two travellers, Count Alberto and Don Parmenione, take shelter. The Count is on his way to meet Berenice, his intended bride - agreed by contract, though they have never met. Martino brings in the luggage, and it is not noticed that two cases are identical. When he and his master eventually set off, they take the wrong case by mistake. When Don Parmenione opens his luggage he quickly discovers the error, but also finds Alberto's passport and the portrait of a beautiful lady. He immediately decides to impersonate the Count and get the girl for himself.

At Don Eusebio's villa, his niece Berenice prepares for the arrival of her intended husband by hatching a plot with her friend Ernestina which will allow her to observe the Count from a distance. Ernestina is to play the role of Berenice, while the young lady herself will portray a servant girl. Eventually, two men arrive, both claiming to be the Count. Alberto himself finds the servant more attractive than the mistress, while Don Parmenione falls for Ernestina, despite her lack of resemblance to the portrait, which is disclosed to be of Alberto's sister, who plays no part in the events.

The Cast

Berenice
 a young lady
Conte Alberto
 betrothed to Berenice
Don Eusebio
 Berenice's uncle
Don Parmenione
 a gentleman on his travels
Ernestina
 Berenice's friend
Martino
 Alberto's servant

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