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Beatrix Cenci

Photo: Tom Barnett, Courtesy The Washington Opera

World Premiere Performance by The Washington Opera, September 1971

Ginastera, Alberto

Beatrix Cenci (1971)

Duration: 90 minutes

Opera in two acts and fourteen scenes

English   Deutsch  

Libretto by William Shand and Alberto Girri (S,F)


Major roles: 2S,M,T,2Bar; minor roles; 2T,3B,2male speakers; chorus 3(III=picc).3(III=corA).3(III=bcl).2.dbn- vib/bells(3 sets)/xyl/wind chimes (wood)/3 flex/3Chinese gongs/ Javanese gong/susp.crash cyms/BD/SD/5bongos/5congas/5tom-t/cowbells/ tamburo/tgl/tamb/wdbl/tam-t/whip/ratchet/crots/tpl.bl-cel-organ- mand-harp-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)


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

World Premiere
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
Gerald Freedman, director / Joyce Trisler, choreography
Conductor: Julius Rudel
Company: Opera Society of Washington


COUNT FRANCESCO CENCI, Beatrix's father Baritone
LUCRECIA, Beatrix's step-mother Mezzo-Soprano
BERNARDO, Beatrix's brother Soprano
GIACOMO, Beatrix's brother Baritone
ORSINO, a prelate Tenor
ANDREA, the Count's servant Bass
OLIMPIO, an assasin Speaking role
MARZIO, an assasin Speaking role
A Guard Bass
1st Guest Tenor
2nd Guest Tenor
3rd Guest Bass
Nobles, Guards, Dancers, Servants, Etc... Chorus

Time and Place

14th Century, the Cenci Palace in Rome


Count Francesco Cenci, hated by the people and feared by his daughter Beatrix and his second wife Lucrecia, arranges a masked ball at which he intends to celebrate the death of his two sons.  Beatrix seeks escape by sending a letter to the Pope with her former suitor, Orsino, who has taken Holy Orders, but Orsino tears up the letter.  Dismayed at what the Count is celebrating, the guests leave despite the wishes of Beatrix, who is terrified to be left alone with her insane father.  Orsino arrives, lies about delivering the letter, and claims that the Pope has rejected her plea.  He leaves Beatrix to be raped by her father.  In exile, Beatrix is persuaded by her older brother Giacomo to kill her father; she consents and hires two assassins, Olimpio and Marzio.  Lucrecia gives Cenci a sleeping potion and delivers him to the assassins.  They mortally stab the Count and hide his body.  Months later, Orsino announces that the Count’s body has been found, one of the assassins has been killed, and the other has confessed.  Beatrix is arrested, bound, and tortured.  She is then executed at the scaffold.


Dramatic, Tragic


History, Politics, Relationships, Society

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