The Taming of the Shrew
Martín y Soler
The Taming of the Shrew (La capricciosa corretta)
music by Vicente Martín y Soler (1795)
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
English translation by Robert Thicknesse
The Deanery Garden, Bampton, 21 and 22 July 2006
The Theatre at Headington, 29 July 2006
|Bonario a wealthy merchant||Adrian Powter|
Ciprigna his second wife
|Isabella his daughter||Tamsin Coombs|
|Valerio his son||Peter van Hulle|
|Cilia maid to the household||Amanda Pitt|
|Fiuta a manservant||John Lofthouse|
|Lelio suitor to Isabella||Eamonn Mulhall|
Don Giglio an admirer of Ciprignia
In a comfortable villa, picturesquely but perhaps foolishly situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, a single traumatic day unfolds. Bonario, a wealthy merchant and widower, has rashly entered into a second marriage, with the young, vain and headstrong Ciprigna. At daybreak, Bonario’s children Valerio and Isabella, and his servants Fiuta and Cilia threaten to leave home, at the end of their tether through Ciprigna’s capriciousness and bullying. Bonario promises to reassert his authority that very day, and thus – for the moment – delays their departure. Don Giglio, a flamboyant admirer of Ciprigna, arrives to court her, but their encounter is overseen. Bonario attempts to regain his position as head of the household, but accidentally drops his prepared speech to his wife, who picks it up and is outraged. Pandemonium ensues. Fiuta chides Bonario for his cowardice, and hears the pathetic story of how the husband lost his authority even on his wedding night. Lelio arrives, hopeful and in love, to request Isabella’s hand in marriage. Meeting him for the first time and unaware of his purpose, Ciprigna immediately transfers her affections to him; Fiuta counsels Lelio to play along as a means to trapping her. Bonario rehearses a further speech to his wife in front of a chair. Fiuta provides weapons to intimidate Ciprigna, but she seizes them and attacks Bonario. Don Giglio is tricked into believing that he is being pursued by assassins; hiding himself he becomes the unwilling witness to the flirtation between Ciprigna and Lelio. The act ends in total uproar, but at least Giglio is smiling: he’s discovered a purse of gold.
Valerio repeats his intention to leave to join the army, whilst Isabella worries about her reputation and is unhappy about eloping with Lelio. Fiuta is confident that he will engineer everything for the best, and will then himself be able to marry Cilia. Ciprigna rejects Giglio in favour of Lelio, whom she presents with jewels and property deeds. As these in fact belong to Bonario, Lelio returns them to their owner. Ciprigna is suspicious and sends a letter to Don Giglio. A mysterious oriental ambassador named Irco Berlico arrives and tempts Ciprigna with tales of a magical island: here her surpassing beauty will cause her to be elected queen by forty young men, and she will enjoy eternal youth and life. She decides to leave home during the night; her letter to Giglio has instructed him to take Isabella to a convent to keep her away from Lelio. However Cilia discovers this plot, and Lelio rescues Isabella from Giglio. In the night, Ciprigna’s preparations to leave are upset by frightening explosions. She finds herself locked outside in an apocalyptic storm and becomes petrified. Her illusions shattered, she begs forgiveness from Bonario and promises submission. Fiuta reveals that he was disguised as the oriental, but Ciprigna acknowledges her debt to him. Giglio is dismissed, and the family prepare a feast of reconciliation.
invariably slick, …cleverly imaginative...
Opera Now, November 2006
the magnetism of Bampton Classical Opera...
The Oxford Times, July 2006