Pia de' Tolomei
is a tragedia lirica
, or tragic opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...
, in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer from Bergamo, Lombardy. His best-known works are the operas L'elisir d'amore , Lucia di Lammermoor , and Don Pasquale , all in Italian, and the French operas La favorite and La fille du régiment...
. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...
after Bartolomeo Sestini's novella, in its turn after Dante
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...
's narrative poem The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...
part 2: Purgatorio
. It premiered on 18 February 1837 at the Teatro Apollo in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...
Pia de' Tolomei is a tragic figure whom Dante encountered in Purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...
. Her story was so familiar to Dante's readers that an understated allusion
An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication. M. H...
was enough to call it to mind:
"Deh, quando tu sarai tornato al mondo,
e riposato de la lunga via",
seguitò 'l terzo spirito al secondo,
"Ricorditi di me, che son la Pia;
Siena mi fé, disfecemi Maremma:
salsi colui che 'nnanellata pria
disposando m'avea con la sua gemma"
Ah, when you have returned to the world,
and rested from the long journey,"
followed the third spirit after the second,
"remember me, the one who is Pia;
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...
made me, Maremma
The Maremma is a vast area in Italy bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea, consisting of part of south-western Tuscany - Maremma Livornese and Maremma Grossetana , and part of northern Lazio - Maremma Laziale .The poet Dante Alighieri in his Divina Commedia places the...
he knows it, the one who first encircled
my finger with his jewel, when he married me."
||Premiere Cast, 18 February 1837
(Conductor: - )
|Pia, Nello's wife
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...
|Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani
Fanny Tacchinardi Persiani was an Italian soprano particularly associated with bel canto composers, such as Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and early Verdi...
|Ghino Degli Armieri, Nello's cousin
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...
Antonio Poggi was an Italian operatic tenor who had an active international career from 1827-1848. He is best remembered for creating roles in the world premieres of operas by Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi...
|Nello Della Pietra
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...
Giorgio Ronconi was an Italian operatic baritone celebrated for his brilliant acting and compelling stage presence. In 1842, he created the title-role in Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco at La Scala, Milan.-Career:...
|Rodrigo, Pia's brother
Contralto is the deepest female classical singing voice, with the lowest tessitura, falling between tenor and mezzo-soprano. It typically ranges between the F below middle C to the second G above middle C , although at the extremes some voices can reach the E below middle C or the second B above...
|Piero, a hermit
|Ubaldo, Nello's servant
|Lamberto, old servant of Pia's family
|Servants, bridesmaids, hermits
- Place: Siena
- Time: 1260
Ghino has fallen in love with Pia, wife of his cousin Nello, a Ghibelline lord. When she refuses his love, as revenge Ghino informs Nello that he has discovered a secret message (found by the mischievous servant Ubaldo) proving that Pia has an adulterous relation. It tells of a secret meeting to be held between Pia and her lover.
Ghino goes to the place described in the message, and does find Pia with a man. Ghino does not know that the man is not her lover but her brother Rodrigo, a Guelph
The Guelphs and Ghibellines were factions supporting the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, in central and northern Italy. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the split between these two parties was a particularly important aspect of the internal policy of the Italian city-states...
, whom she is helping to escape from Nello's prison. Rodrigo manages to escape, but Pia is captured and imprisoned.
Ghino again offers her his love, promising to give her freedom in exchange; but the woman still refuses. Impressed by Pia's virtue and informed of the true identity of her alleged lover, Ghino repents and, mortally wounded in battle, reveals the truth to Nello. However, Nello had already given to his servant Ubaldo the order to kill Pia by poisoning. Nello rushes to stop the servant, but it is too late: he finds his wife is dying. On her deathbed, Pia forgives her husband, and effects a reconciliation between him and Rodrigo.
(Pia, Ghino degli Armieri, Nello della Pietra, Rodrigo)
Opera House and Orchestra
David Parry is an English conductor who is particularly known for his work within the field of opera. Described as "a man of the theatre with whom directors love to work; he is good with singers; he knows the British opera world like the back of his hand...
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The London Philharmonic Orchestra , based in London, is one of the major orchestras of the United Kingdom, and is based in the Royal Festival Hall. In addition, the LPO is the main resident orchestra of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera...
and Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
|Audio CD: Opera Rara
Opera Rara is a British record label, founded in the early 1970s by Americans Patric Schmid and Don White to promote concerts of rare and/or forgotten operas by Giacomo Meyerbeer and Donizetti and such other "bel canto" composers as Giovanni Pacini, Saverio Mercadante, and Federico Ricci.The...
Cat: ORC 30
Patrizia Ciofi, born in Casole d'Elsa, Siena, on June 7, 1967, is an Italian operatic soprano. She is married to the conductor Luciano Acocella....
Teatro La Fenice Orchestra and Chorus
(Audio and video recordings made at performances in the Teatro La Fenice, April)
|Audio CD: Dynamic
Cat: CDS 488/1-2
Dynamic is an Italian independent record label located in Genoa. Founded in 1978, it specialises in classical music and opera, especially rarely performed works and has produced several world premiere recordings...