12 October: L’oca del Cairo, ossia Lo sposo deluso
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THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL CHAMBER OPERA FESTIVAL
Production by Hungarian State Opera
In the four years after the composition of Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 1782, Mozart was flirting with the comic opera genre. “I have looked through a hundred libretti, and more, but have not been able to find even one with which I am satisfied” – he wrote to his father in Salzburg.
“The chief thing is the comic element – I know the taste of the Viennese” – wrote Mozart to one of his potential librettists, while still looking for a new libretto for his latest opera. The fruit of this labour was L’oca del Cairo, The Goose of Cairo, an abortive project if there ever was one. It is perhaps a measure of Mozart’s desperation that he should not only be prepared to consider collaborating on a comic opera with Abbate Varesco, the librettist of the opera Idomeno, who, as he admitted, had “not the slightest knowledge or experience of the theatre” but should actually work on so barren a tale off and on for six months before finally acknowledging that it was hopeless. The story of an old Marquis who betroths her daughter to a man she doesn’t like, and keeps her shut up in a tower from which the daughter’s true love can rescue her with the help of a giant mechanical goose, certainly won’t join the pantheon of drama.
Another opera fragment, Lo sposo deluso, The Deluded Bridegroom, probably dates from about the same time. It may be the libretto Mozart mentioned in a letter: “An Italian poet” brought him a text, which “I shall perhaps adopt if he agrees to adjust and tailor it to my liking” – he wrote. The poet is often assumed to be Da Ponte himself.
The true importance of L'oca del Cairo – which is composed of only a few arias, two duets, a quartet, and a finale – for Mozart’s dramaturgy is that it was his first true, eventful buffo finale: through-composed and with two opposing groups, in which the roles are delineated further through distinct musical characterisation. This was the prelude to Mozart’s great Da Ponte-operas: Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte.
Conductor: Pál Németh
Don Pippo: István Kovács
Celidora: Anikó Bakonyi
Calandrino: Gergely Biri
Lionetto: János Szerekován
Lavina: Zita Váradi
Biondello: Péter Balczó
Auretta: Bori Keszei
Chichibio: Máté Fülep
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Librettist: Lorenzo Da Ponte / Giovanni Battista Varesco
Concept by: Attila Toronykőy / Szilveszter Ókovács
Music edited by: Pál Németh
Italian libretto supplemented by: Éva Lax
Director: Attila Toronykőy
Set and costume designer: Katalin Juhász
Dramaturg, Hungarian surtitles: Judit Kenesey
Russian surtitles: Okszána dr. Taskovics
Photo by Péter Rákossy