Baldassare Galuppi: La Diavolessa (The She Devil)

An 18th Century Season

The 2020 Summer Opera has been deferred due to COVID-19
Now scheduled:
June 30 (Preview), July 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 2021. The Warden’s Garden, New College.

The Warden’s Garden, New College, 6.30pm

July 1
Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
July 4
Tickets: New College Development Fund (01865) 279 337
July 7
Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
July 8
Tickets: Friends of the Oxford Botanic Gardens (07954) 136751
July 10
Tickets: New College Development Fund (01865) 279 337
July 11
Tickets: Friends of Welsh National Opera (01844) 237 551

Count Nastri
The Countess, his wife
Dorina, An Adventuress
Giannino, young, lover of Dorina
Don Poppone Corbelli, gentleman
Ghiandina, housemaid
Falco, innkeeper

The ‘She-devil’ of the opera is, of course, Dorina, the character who provides a focus for several characters’ desires. The plot starts out sedately enough; Giannino and Dorina are in love, but Dorina has decided that because Giannino has no money, she will not marry him. Falco, the local inn-keeper, suggests that they try a scam to rob the foolish – but wealthy – old Don Poppone. But now the plot descends into farce. Poppone believes there is treasure in his basement, and Giannino and Dorina pose as Turkish mystics to pretend to find it. When they arrive, Poppone mistakes the pair for the Roman Count Nastri and his wife the Countess, whom Poppone was also expecting; when the real noble couple arrives, they are mistaken for the announced Turks. CHAOS. Musically, the most important interesting number is the second finale, which contains the séance; the score evokes mysterious and eerie powers.

Galuppi and the librettist Carlo Goldoni, between them invented opera buffa as we know it today. The Venetian-born composer worked both as a writer of opera seria and then in the newly developed drama giocoso. His music, in an attractive, mid-18th-century gallant style, was heard throughout Europe, and although he spent periods out of Venice – including a spell at the Italian Opera House in London – the city was the focus of his career. His music disappeared into obscurity, partly because Napoleon’s invasion of Venice in 1797 resulted in Galuppi’s manuscripts being scattered and, in many cases, lost or destroyed. La Diavolessa, which was premiered at the Teatro S Samuele in November 1755, however, did survive, and is among those works revived during the 20th century.