La vera costanza
Dramma giocoso in three acts
Music by Joseph Haydn, 1778
Libretto by Francesco Puttini and Pietro Travaglia
English translation by Murray Hipkin and Gilly French
The Deanery garden, Bampton, 16 and 17 July 2004
Rosina, a fishergirl
Baroness Irene, aunt of Count Errico
Lisetta, the Baroness's maid
|Count Errico, a fickle and capricious young man, secretly married to Rosina||Huw Rhys-Evans|
Ernesto, a marquis and friend of the Count
Masino, head fisherman and Rosina's brother
|Villotto Villano, a rich fop, engaged to Rosina||Nicholas Merryweather|
Orchestra Sally Fenton (leader), Camilla Scarlett, Alison Cutting, Philip Augar, Kate Bailey, Stewart Attwood, Claire Parkin, Felicity Cormack violin; Morgan Goff, Gill Barbour viola; Judith Dallosso, Steve Buck 'cello; Anne Allen, Megan Skinner flute; Carolyn King, Sheila Nicholls oboe; Simon Payne bassoon; Justin Rhodes timpani
In a terrible storm, a small boat makes an emergency landing at a fishing village, and the Baroness Irene, the Marquis Ernesto, the fop Villotto and the baroness's maid Lisetta are rescued by the local fisherpeople, Masino and his sister. The meeting is fortuitous for the Baroness who has been fearful of rumours that her unpredictable nephew Count Errico was to marry a poor fishergirl, Rosina. She now finds that Masino's sister is this same Rosina, whom she has been hoping to find and to distract by marrying her off to Villotto; meanwhile the Baroness has promised her own hand to Ernesto if she succeeds in the plot. However, the artful baroness and her shipwrecked party are quite unaware that not only did Errico marry Rosina five years previously, but a child was born subsequent to Errico's mysterious and long-term departure.
Irene attempts to persuade Rosina to accept Villotto; Rosina suffers the torment of loyalty to an absent and possibly indifferent husband. Unexpectedly Errico arrives, and threatens to shoot Villotto; Ernesto attempts to support the Baroness’s ploy by threatening Masino unless he persuades his sister to accept her new suitor.
Errico cruelly tests his wife’s constancy by speaking heartlessly, and when Villotto stammers that he has decided to give up on marriage and go to war, the Count adopts the military metaphor as an image of how to lay siege to a woman’s heart. Rosina confides in Lisetta, and unhappily appeals to the Baroness for death. Masino and Villotto are almost fighting when Lisetta warns them to hide from Errico and Ernesto; terrified, they run away. Rosina begs Errico to kill her, but instead he embraces her. The Baroness is angry to find them, and shows Errico a picture of an intended bride – when he incautiously expresses admiration, Rosina is convinced that she has lost him for ever.
In the Baroness’s castle Ernesto appeals to Rosina; his happiness depends on her acceptance of Villotto. His declaration that only she can bring him happiness is however overheard and misconstrued by the Baroness and Errico: they both turn on Rosina, as do Villotto and Lisetta, and she decides to flee. Errico, enraged at her ‘infidelity’ commands Villotto to find and kill her. Lisetta realises the deception and persuades Errico that Rosina is faithful. Errico is dismayed at what he has done, and goes to look for her.
Rosina flees with her son to the fishing village and hides in an abandoned tower. Masino arrives looking for her, and falls asleep exhausted; Villotto is about to kill him when he is stopped by Lisetta. The Baroness and Ernesto arrive and everyone goes in search of Rosina. Errico finds a small boy alone, who leads him to Rosina: he begs forgiveness and embraces his son, defying the anger of the Baroness and Ernesto.
The Baroness makes a final attempt to divide the couple and sends Errico and Rosina forged letters, each apparently signed by the other. Both see through the trick, and they are drawn to declare their renewed love. The Baroness finds the happily reunited family and is forced to accept Rosina as her nephew’s wife. She keeps her promise to marry Ernesto.
Melting moments that are the best of Haydn
The Times, 19 July 2004
The subtle kinship linking Bampton Opera so warmly to its audience
Oxford Times, 23 July 2004
superb in all departments
Opera, September 2004
the real joy of the English summer opera season...
Opera Now, November 2004