23, 29 October, 2 & 5 November
It’s a good idea to know the woman you’re going to marry – and it’s a clever woman who sees what the man’s getting up to!
Donizetti is one of the most frequently-performed composers at Wexford and Gianni di Parigi is the fifteenth of his operas to be staged during the sixty years of the Festival. It is one of Donizetti’s least-known works and was written in 1831 in a fruitless attempt to get a well-known singer to perform it in Paris so as to make Donizetti’s name better known. The first performance was to be a pirated one in La Scala in 1839, put on against Donizetti’s wishes.
The story of Gianni di Parigi derives from a popular 15th century romans de chevalerie about the heir to the throne of France, the Dauphin. He is betrothed to the Princess of Navarre, but they have never met, and he wants to see her for himself before they get married, to find out if she is really as good and beautiful as he has been told. So he disguises himself as a wealthy burgher and goes to an inn which the Princess has reserved for herself and her entourage on their journey to Paris for her marriage. The disguised Dauphin insists on staying at the inn himself, bribes the innkeeper, commandeers the food and drink and is then able to ask the Princess to dine with him. The Princess sees through the plot and is well aware of the burgher’s true identity, but she thinks highly of his enterprise, goes along with the ruse and all ends very happily.