(Nina, or The Girl Driven Mad for Love)
The Deanery Garden, Bampton, July 1999
Commedia in prosa ed in verso per musica in two acts by Giovanni Paisiello to a libretto by Giambattista Lorenzi after Giuseppe Carpani’s translation of Benoît-Joseph Marsollier des Vivetières’ Nina, ou La folle par amour.
Performed by arrangement with Ricordi, in the revised edition by Fausto Broussard
English translation by Jeremy Gray and Gilly French
Lindoro, her lover
|The Count, her father||Henry Herford|
|Susanna, her companion||Amanda Pitt|
|Giorgio, the Count’s valet||Justin Harmer|
|A musician||Christopher Dyson|
|Second musician||Jean-Pierre Rasle|
(Chorus of) staff and patients at the sanatorium: Morag Crowther, Gilly French, Annabel Molyneaux, Jennifer French, Jackie Huntingford, Christopher Dyson, Geoffrey Huntingford, Andrew Hichens, Damian Riddle.
Orchestra Miranda Walton (leader), Liz McCarthy, Liz Hodson, Sarah Jackman, Stewart Attwood, Diana Hinds violin; Nikki Attwood, Felicity Cormack viola; Judith Dallosso, Eleanor Rice 'cello; Ben Griffiths double bass; Christine Woodward, Catherine Goble flute; Carolyn King, Sheila Nichols, oboe; Doug Lamb, Jonathan Hill clarinet; Simon Payne, Ian McCubbin bassoon; Bob Fox, Julian Morris horn; Jonathan Katz harpsichord.
As we learn from Susanna's account in the course of Act I, Nina's unhappy state is the result of the Count's misplaced ambition for his daughter's marriage. Nina had fallen in love with Lindoro, a match at first approved of by her father. When a wealthier rival presented himself, however, the Count quickly changed his mind; Lindoro was dismissed and Nina's pleadings were to no avail. Hoping to see her one last time, Lindoro encountered his rival and was mortally wounded in a duel. The experience had a traumatic effect on Nina: she lost her reason and no longer recognises her father or friends. Yet she clings to the expectation that Lindoro will return to her, and waits daily for him at the garden gate.
In a sanatorium, staff and patients comment on the tragic fate of Nina. Her governess, Susanna, appointed by her distraught father to watch over her, is deeply upset by the experience but the Count's valet, Giorgio, is ever optimistic. Susanna relates the circumstances which brought about Nina's illness. The Count is full of his own woes and rejection by his daughter, but also realises that he is entirely to blame; Giorgio tries to cheer him.
Nina waits in the garden, and sings of her solitude and unhappiness as she waits for Lindoro to return. She fails to remember Susanna's name, and dispenses gifts to the women. They comfort her by singing a song to Lindoro. The Count approaches, unable to keep away, but Nina imagines that he is a stranger. Her increasing misery is alleviated by the rustic song of a musician, accompanied on the bagpipes. Susanna attempts to persuade her to leave her vigil and go inside. Reluctantly, Nina agrees. Susanna, the musician, and the Count comment on Nina's and their own distress.
Susanna sings of her devotion to Nina. Giorgio, quite breathless, arrives to announce to the Count the amazing appearance of Lindoro in the grounds. Against all odds, his wounds from the duel have been cured, and he is attempting to see Nina again. The repentant Count greets Lindoro as his son, but warns him of Nina's illness, and advises caution in approaching her. Alone, Lindoro meditates on his love, before leaving to await the Count's signal. The company, hearing of Lindoro's return, try to hint to Nina that she should make herself ready for him. Suddenly she encounters him but convinces herself that he is also a stranger. Lindoro adopts the role of a friend, and cautiously tells of his love. Unaware of his true identity, Nina is enraptured by his 'knowledge' of her love affair and, without realising it, projects her affections onto him. Finding new contentment, she begins to recognise the familiar faces around her; true awareness of Lindoro's presence soon follows and the two rejoice in their rediscovered love.
from 'Opera Now'
from 'The Oxford Times'
'The Oxford Times'
'The greatest composer there is: Paisiello'
[remark attributed to Napoleon]
Michael F. Robinson
'Light and pleasurable sensations'