opera by Gioachino Rossini

About Performance

ACT I. In Al­gi­ers, at the se­a­si­de pa­la­ce of the bey Mu­sta­fà, his wi­fe, El­vi­ra, com­pla­ins that her hus­band no lon­ger lo­ves her. Mu­sta­fà says he has ti­red of his wi­fe and will gi­ve her to Lin­do­ro, a young Ita­lian at the co­urt, to ma­rry. Then he or­ders Haly, a cap­tain in his ser­vi­ce, to pro­vi­de an Ita­lian wo­man for him­self-so­me­o­ne mo­re in­te­re­sting than the girls in his ha­rem, all of whom bo­re him. Lin­do­ro longs for his own swe­et­he­art, Isa­bel­la, whom he lost when pi­ra­tes cap­tu­red him. Mu­sta­fà tells him he can ha­ve El­vi­ra, in­si­sting she pos­se­ses every vir­tue that Lin­do­ro, in his at­tempt to esca­pe Mu­sta­fà's con­nu­bial trap, has li­sted. El­sew­he­re along the sho­re, a ship­wreck is spot­ted in the dis­tan­ce, and Haly's pi­ra­tes exult in the catch. Isa­bel­la ar­ri­ves on sho­re. Tho­ugh in dan­ger, she is con­fi­dent of her skill in ta­ming men. The pi­ra­tes se­i­ze Tad­deo, an ad­mi­rer of Isa­bel­la's, and at­tempt to sell him in­to sla­very, but he cla­ims he is Isa­bel­la's un­cle and can­not le­a­ve her. When the Turks le­arn that both cap­ti­ves are Ita­lian, they re­jo­i­ce in ha­ving fo­und the new star for Mu­sta­fa. Tad­deo is ag­hast at the aplomb with which Isa­bel­la ta­kes his news, but af­ter a qu­ar­rel abo­ut his je­a­lo­usy, they de­ci­de they had bet­ter fa­ce the­ir pre­di­ca­ment to­get­her. Mu­sta­fà pro­mi­ses Lin­do­ro he may re­turn to Italy – if he will ta­ke El­vi­ra. Se­e­ing no ot­her way, Lin­do­ro ac­cepts, ma­king it cle­ar he might not ma­rry El­vi­ra un­til af­ter they re­ach Italy. El­vi­ra, ho­we­ver, lo­ves her hus­band and se­es no advan­ta­ge in aiding Lin­do­ro's esca­pe. When Haly an­no­un­ces the cap­tu­re of an Ita­lian wo­man, Mu­sta­fà glo­ats in an­ti­ci­pa­tion of con­qu­est, then le­a­ves to me­et her. Lin­do­ro tri­es to tell El­vi­ra she has no cho­i­ce but to le­a­ve her he­ar­tless hus­band. Mu­sta­fà wel­co­mes Isa­bel­la with ce­re­mony. Asi­de, she re­marks that he lo­oks ri­di­cu­lo­us and fe­els cer­tain that she will be able to deal with him; he, on the ot­her hand, finds her en­chan­ting. As she se­e­mingly throws her­self on his mercy, the je­a­lo­us Tad­deo starts to ma­ke a sce­ne and is sa­ved only when she dec­la­res that he is her "un­cle." El­vi­ra and Lin­do­ro, abo­ut to le­a­ve for Italy, co­me to say good-bye to the bey, and Lin­do­ro and Isa­bel­la are stun­ned to re­cog­ni­ze each ot­her. To pre­vent Lin­do­ro's de­par­tu­re, Isa­bel­la in­sists that Mu­sta­fà can­not ba­nish his wi­fe, ad­ding that Lin­do­ro must stay as her own per­so­nal ser­vant. Bet­we­en the fru­stra­tion of Mu­sta­fà's plans and the happy but con­fu­sed ex­ci­te­ment of the lo­vers, everyone's head re­els.
ACT II. El­vi­ra and va­ri­o­us mem­bers of the co­urt are di­scus­sing how easily the Ita­lian wo­man has co­wed Mu­sta­fà, gi­ving El­vi­ra ho­pe of re­ga­i­ning his lo­ve. When Mu­sta­fà en­ters, ho­we­ver, it is to dec­la­re he will ha­ve cof­fee with Isa­bel­la. She co­mes out of her ro­om, up­set be­ca­u­se Lin­do­ro ap­pa­rently bro­ke fa­ith with her by agre­e­ing to esca­pe with El­vi­ra. Lin­do­ro ap­pe­ars and re­as­su­res her of his loyalty. Pro­mi­sing a sche­me for the­ir fre­e­dom, Isa­bel­la le­a­ves him to his rap­tu­ro­us fe­e­lings. Af­ter he too le­a­ves, Mu­sta­fà re­ap­pe­ars, fol­lo­wed by at­ten­dants with the ter­ri­fied Tad­deo, who is to be ho­no­red as the bey's Ka­i­ma­kan, in ex­chan­ge for hel­ping se­cu­re Isa­bel­la's af­fec­ti­ons. Dres­sed in Tur­kish garb, he se­es no cho­i­ce but to ac­cept the com­pul­sory ho­nor. Isa­bel­la pre­pa­res for Mu­sta­fà's vi­sit, tel­ling El­vi­ra that the way to ke­ep her hus­band is to be mo­re as­ser­ti­ve. As she com­ple­tes her to­i­let­te, Isa­bel­la, kno­wing she is over­he­ard by Mu­sta­fà in the bac­kgro­und, sings a moc­king in­vo­ca­tion to Ve­nus to help con­qu­er her vic­tim. To ma­ke him im­pa­ti­ent, she ke­eps him wa­i­ting, as her "ser­vant" Lin­do­ro acts as go-bet­we­en. At length she pre­sents her­self to the bey, who in­tro­du­ces Tad­deo as his Ka­i­ma­kan. Mu­sta­fà sne­e­zes – a sig­nal for Tad­deo to le­a­ve-but Tad­deo stays, and Isa­bel­la in­vi­tes El­vi­ra to stay for cof­fee, to Mu­sta­fà's dis­ple­a­su­re. When Isa­bel­la in­sists that he tre­at his wi­fe gently, Mu­sta­fà bursts out in an­noyan­ce, whi­le the ot­hers won­der what to ma­ke of his ful­mi­na­ti­ons. Haly pre­dicts that his ma­ster is no match for an Ita­lian wo­man. As Lin­do­ro and Tad­deo plan the­ir esca­pe, Tad­deo says he is Isa­bel­la's true lo­ve. Lin­do­ro is amu­sed but re­a­li­zes he ne­eds Tad­deo's help in de­a­ling with Mu­sta­fà, who en­ters, still fu­ri­o­us. Lin­do­ro says Isa­bel­la ac­tu­ally ca­res very much for the bey and wants him to pro­ve his wort­hi­ness by en­te­ring the Ita­lian or­der of Pap­pa­ta­ci. Be­li­e­ving this to be an ho­nor, Mu­sta­fà asks what he has to do. Sim­ple, says Lin­do­ro: eat, drink, and sle­ep all you li­ke, ob­li­vi­o­us to anything aro­und you. Isa­bel­la re­a­di­es a fe­ast of ini­ti­a­tion for the bey, ex­hor­ting her fel­low Ita­li­ans to be con­fi­dent. Mu­sta­fà ar­ri­ves, and Lin­do­ro re­minds him of the ini­ti­a­tion pro­ce­du­re. Af­ter he is pro­no­un­ced a Pap­pa­ta­ci, food is bro­ught in, and he is te­sted by Isa­bel­la and Lin­do­ro, who pre­tend to ma­ke lo­ve whi­le Tad­deo re­minds Mu­sta­fà to ig­no­re them. A ship draws up in the bac­kgro­und, and the lo­vers pre­pa­re to em­bark, but Tad­deo re­a­li­zes that he too is be­ing tric­ked and tri­es to rally Mu­sta­fà, who per­sists in ke­e­ping his vow of paying no at­ten­tion. When Mu­sta­fà fi­nally re­sponds, the Ita­li­ans ha­ve the si­tu­a­tion un­der con­trol and bid a co­ur­te­o­us fa­re­well. Mu­sta­fà, his les­son le­ar­ned, ta­kes El­vi­ra back, and everyone sings the pra­i­ses of the re­so­ur­ce­ful Ita­lian wo­man.


Let’s assume that Rossini has never composed Il Barbiere di Siviglia – in that case, we would not have had any idea about the piece. Hence, what would we say about the score of L’Italiana in Algeri? (It is not our principal intention to avoid comparison!) The overture can be heard in concerts, not so often as the one of The Thieving Magpie, but still it is quite popular. Certainly, there are many tacts in it that are mere “add-ons”, but on the other hand there are many melodies (second theme) written by lucid inspiration. Score of the opera is light: conflicts are rare, just like at the stage. Everything is smooth and gently: we shall not burst into laughter, nor be upset by a sudden dissonant accord. We shall just be amused by light tones of music, beautiful tenor aria, and impressed by extremely hard bass coloraturas. However, we shall be surprised with the fact that main melodies are not placed within solo arias, but within joint singing (“ensemble singing”): it seems that Rossini didn’t want his arias to be sung in the streets, his intention was to motivate audience to come to the theatre and to listen the buffo finale or quintet, or trio in the second act. We shouldn’t be surprised with this as far as Rossini is concerned. It is often said that he used to overload his operas with arias. In fact, if we compare his operas with Mozart’s which we admire so, we shall find  that he wrote significantly less arias: in his Italian operas Mozart composed two or three arias for each of the protagonist – but Rossini seldom did the same (and if he did, he would add to the aria a short cavatina or arioso). To remind you: Mozart’s Figaro sings three arias, Rossini’s only one! Thus we may conclude: “an ensemble opera” (as there is “a choir opera” or “a monologue opera”)? Yes, definitely “an ensemble opera”, but from Rossini’s pen. And it is always in some strange but his peculiar way also opera of arias, although more protagonists sing those arias.       

Borislav Pašćan, 1976

L”Italiana in Algeri is the twelfth opera written by Rossini. It was premiered at the San Benedetto Theatre in Venice, on May 22, 1813. Maria Marcolini, famous diva, appeared as Isabella (Rossini wrote most of his coloratura mezzos for her) and Filippo Galli as Mustafa. Opera achieved great success and in a short time it was put in repertoire of almost all major European opera houses. However, it has been unfairly forgotten for more than a century.

(born: Pesaro, 1792; died: Passy, near Paris, 1868)
Along with Verdi, Rossini was the most famous Italian composer of the 19th century. In 1810, when he was only eighteen, his first one-act comedy La combiate del matrimonio was presented in Venice. His first operas to win international acclaim were Tancredi and L’Italiana in Algeri, also presented in Venice three years later. Then came the triumph with Il Barbiere di Siviglia and since then he occupied an unrivalled position in the Italian musical world. His productivity in composing as well as his growing success enabled him to sign contracts with theatres of Vienna, Milan, and Naples. His contractual obligations per each contract bound him to compose two operas per year. In Vienna he was hailed furiously – yes, furiously is correct word to describe the atmosphere which provoked Beethoven’s anger, in spite of the fact that Rossini always was great admirer of Beethoven’s and Bach’s music. One period of his life he spent in Paris, where he experienced fiasco with his opera theatre, and later became music superintendent. His last opera Guillame Tell was produced in 1829. Although he achieved great success with it, he stopped writing opera for the remainder of his life. In that period he composed Stabat Mater and several shorter works. Up to 1848 he lived quietly in Bologna. Then revolutionary disturbances drove him to Florence. As soon as war against Austria started he returned to Paris. In Paris, he led a big house; he was always well informed about the cultural events, but he didn’t create any more – he devoted himself to the art of cookery. Rossini was the last genial and glorious representative of Italian opera. He based his work in previous 18th century operas. With florid lines, vocal embellishment, incredible speed, and spontaneity, Rossini created some of the most unforgettable music in the operatic repertoire. In Paris he composed a number of French operas in which he fully entered into the spirit of French language, he used heroic costumes and great pathos of great French operas. Although appeared as French all those operas are essentially Italian operas, operas in the Italian style. With Il Barbiere di Siviglia he achieved such a success in the genre of comic opera that no one after him would repeat, particularly when having in mind that after the fiasco with his first comic opera Verdi didn’t compose in this genre till Falstaff, a piece quite different from the old buffo-opera. Rossini’s artistic career was frequently troubled with moments of insecurity; at those moments he was not satisfied even with his best work. However, he was a true artist, great connoisseur of life and above all a witty person. In his early years he was inspired by Simon Mayr, famous Italian operatic composer of Bavarian origins. Later, he borrowed stories for his operas from Walter Scott, and finally he produced his great French operas, among which certainly the most important was Guillame Tell. Rossini accepted every music form very eagerly, although he was not so brave to break already established forms. He brought novelty only by his virtuoso arias. His most presented piece is Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Highly popular are also his overtures, and operatic fantasies.

Taken from: A Book of Operas by Jožef Šulhof, Publishing House “Bratsvo Jedinstvo”, Novi Sad, 1954

USCHI HORNER, director
Born: Vienna, Austria
Staged productions:
1998 Les Miserables / Tanzforum Wien Austria
1999 Grease / Vienna Austria
2000 Little Shop of Horrors    / Vienna Austria
2000 L’Histoire du Soldat / Stadttheater Gütersloh Germany
2001 Bastien und Bastienne    / Festival Schloss Frauenthal Austria
2001 Rinaldo / Oakland/California USA
2002 Vogelhändler / Festival Schloss Frauenthal Austria
2003 Help, help-the Globolinks!/ Schönbrunner Schlosstheater Austria
2003 Im Weißen Rössl / Festival Schloss Frauenthal Austria
2003 Don Giovanni / Festival Schloss Kirchstetten Austria
2004 Der Barbier von Sevilla / Festival Schloss Kirchstetten Austria
2005/07 Music for Kids „Kling Klang“ / Wiener Musikverein Austria
2006 The Old Maid and the Thief / Tournee Germany
2006 Eine Nacht in Venedig    / National Opera Reykjavi Iceland
2006 Around the World in 80 Days / World Premier Austria

Assistant director:
Don Giovanni / Schönbrunner Schlosstheater, Festspielhaus St. Pölten (Michael Temme)
Tanz der Vampire / Raimundtheater Wien (Roman Polanski)
Zauberflöte / Opera San Jose California (Daniel Helfgot)
Entführung aus dem Serail / Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg (Friedrich Meyer-Oertel)
Fledermaus / Ronacher/Wien (Günther Mörtl)
Falco / Ronacher Wien (Paulus Manker)
Carmen 2000 / Hamburg (Michael Temme)
Historia von D. J Fausten / Sofiensäle Neue Oper Wien (Günther Mörtl)
Wiener Blut / Schönbrunner Schlosstheater (Robert Herzl)
Asyl / Anton Bruckner Center (Cheslav Themann)
Das Wintermärchen / Odeon/Neue Oper Wien (Michael Klette)

Pedagogical works:
1988-91 jazz dance / various studios Austria
1990 musical theatre workshop / BORG Hegelgasse Austria
1999 musical theatre / Gymnasium Radetzkystraße Austria
2000 musical theatre / Gymnasium Radetzkystraße Austria
2001 summer program / BASOTI /California USA
2002/03 acting for opera singers /
Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien Austria
2004/05 music for children    / Wiener Musikverein Austria

Choreographies for operas, cabarets, films and TV
Head of the artistic department of the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg
Dialog coach for opera, films and TV    
Writer for libretti and scripts        


Premiere performance

Premiere: June 13, 2007 / Main stage       

Comic opera in two acts
Libretto: Angelo Anelli
First performance: May 22, 1813, Teatro San Benedetto, Venice
Director Uschi Horner, as a guest         
Conductor Alessandro Sangiorgi, as a guest
Sets Martina Segna, as a guest       
Costumes Maria Pupuchevska, as a guest
Lights Vasil Lisičov, as a guest
In cooproduction with: CEE Musiktheater, Vienna and Macedonian Opera and Ballet, Skoplje

Premiere Cast:

Mustafa, the bey of Algiers Dragoljub Bajić* / Nenad Jakovljević
Elvira, his wife Snežana Savičić* / Ivanka Raković
Zulma, Elvira’s slave and confidant Željka Zdjelar / Tatjana Mitić
Lindorno, young Italian slave Majkl Spajers k.g. / Saša Štulić k.g.
Haly, Mustafa’s captain Vuk Matić / Nebojša Babić
Isabella, young Italian girl Jadranka Jovanović / Aleksandra Angelov / Nataša Jović Trivić
Taddeo, Isabella’s suitor Predrag Milanović / Miroslav Markovski

Eunuchs, Mustafa’s suitors                                                            
The action takes place in Algeri.
With participation of: Orchestra and Chorus of The National Theatre of Belgrade and members of the Ensemble Renaissance: Aleksandar Jovan Krstić (blowers), Andrej Jovanić (arabian lute) and Andrija Sagić(percussions)

Assistant Conductor Ana Zorana Brajović
Chorus Master Đorđe Stankov
Concert Master Vesna Jansens
Music Associates Nevena Živković, Nada Matijević,  Srđan Jaraković, Ivan Jovanović, Tatjana Ščerbak-Predja
Stage Managers Nikola Kraus, Mirjana Goločevac
Prompters Silvija Pec, Biljana Manojlović
Organizers Snježana Vujasinović, Vanja Kosanić
Translation Borislav Popović
Lighting Designers Milčo Aleksandrov, as a guest, Lazar Streoski
Make-up Designer Dragoljub Jeremić
Stage Master Dimitrije Radinović
Sound Designer Tihomir Savić
*Scholarship holders of CEE Musiktheater
Décor and costumes are designed in the workshops of the National Theatre of Belgrade