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Rita ou Le mari battu (by Gaetano Donizetti)

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Rita, ou le mari battu
Opéra Royal de Wallonie

Claudio Scimone , conductor
Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera
Priscille Laplace , Aldo Caputo, Alberto Rinaldi

The concise story of the waspish innkeeper Rita, her husband Peppe and first husband Gaspare, the latter believed dead in a shipwreck, unrolls in a single act, effectively divided into eight closed numbers: one aria for each singer, three duets, one trio and the finale. The apex of this delightful divertissement, both from the point of view of the action and the music, is the duet where the two men rival each other, albeit in a way that is diametrically opposed to what we are used to seeing on an operatic stage: instead of contending for the female protagonist, like all respectable tenors and baritones in love, they gamble her away, both desperately trying to lose. The writing is that of a consummate composer, flowing and refined. Characters are portrayed with terse effectiveness, situations never trespass into the grotesque.
The result is a perfect balance of all elements, which makes of Rita a small but significant example of Donizetti's musical experience in the 1840s, an experience that can truly be called European.
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