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Prima Donna

Photo: Academie Mozarteum

Academie Mozarteum, 1957

Benjamin, Arthur

Prima Donna (1933)

Duration: 70 minutes

Comedy opera in one act with prologue


English   Deutsch  

Libretto by Cedric Cliffe (E,F,G)


Scoring

2colS,M,T,Bar,B 2.2.2.2-4.2.3.1-timp.perc:BD/SD/tgl/tamb/rattle/cym/gong-cel-pft- strings On-stage band: fl/vln/vla/vlc/guitar Reduced instrumentation: 1.1.1.1-2.1.1.0-timp.perc:BD/SD/tgl/tamb/rattle/cym/gong-cel-pft-strings On-stage band: fl/vln/vla/vlc/guitar

Abbreviations (PDF)


Territory

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
23/02/1949
Fortune Theatre, London
Conductor: Arthur Benjamin
Company: London Opera Club


Roles

FLORINDO, a Venetian gentleman Baritone
ALCINO, his friend Tenor
THE COUNT, Florindo's uncle Bass-Baritone
OLYMPIA, of the opera chorus Coloratura Soprano
FIAMMETTA, of the opera chorus Coloratura Soprano
BELLINA, Florindo's maid Light Mezzo-Soprano
A Pastrycook and his assistants, Furniture removers, Two Negro Pages Silent roles

Time and Place

Italy, mid-18th century


Synopsis

One day in the middle of the eighteenth century, Florindo – a Venetian gentleman – is pacing up and down in a room in his house, and when his friend Alcino turns up he explains why. His rich, elderly uncle the Count has sent him a letter demanding a night’s stay and feminine entertainment in the form of the celebrated prima donna La Filomela singing something from Ariadne Desolate. He will arrive within the hour. The two put their heads together to borrow money, order food and obtain the services of, if not Filomela, then at least a member of the chorus. They cannot agree on which, however, and leave having variously instructed Florindo’s maid Bellina to invite two different sopranos. An hour passes, during which furniture is brought (Florindo’s having been seized), pastrycooks bring food and musicians arrive to accompany Filomela. Alcino and Florindo return, and soon not one but two sopranos – Olympia and Fiammetta – turn up to provide the entertainment. They insult each other furiously before the Count’s arrival necessitates their being hidden away in two cabinets. The dyspeptic old man is plied with food and wine, before insisting on hearing his favourite soprano. To his consternation, there appears not one Filomela, but two – Olympia and Fiammetta in costume – who proceed to sing Ariadne’s aria as a duet in canon. Florindo and Alcino manage to convince the old boy that he’s seeing and hearing double, and when he wishes for a more intimate assignation with Filomela, the resourceful Bellina takes over the role.


Moods

Comic


Subjects

History, Literary, Music/Arts, Society




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