09 May 2006

MARTÍN Y SOLER: Una cosa rara

Una cosa rara, ossia Bellezza ed onestà. Dramma giocoso in two acts.

Music composed by Vicente Martín y Soler (1754–1806). Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte from the comedy La luna de la Sierra by Luis Vélez de Guevara.

First Performance: 17 November 1786, Burgtheater, Vienna.

Principal Characters:

Queen Isabella Soprano
Don Giovanni (the Prince), her son Tenor
Corrado, a great squire Tenor
Lilla, a shepherdess Soprano
Lubino, a shepherd and beloved of Lilla Baritone
Tita, brother of Lilla Bass
Ghita, beloved of Tita Soprano
Lisargo, chief magistrate Bass

Time and Place: 15th Century Spain.

Synopsis:

Act One

As Queen Isabella returns from a hunt, she is met by her son, Don Giovanni. Lilla suddenly bursts into the room, appealing for help from the Queen. She and Lubino are in love. But her brother, Tita, has promised her to Lisargo, the local chief magistrate. The Queen refers the matter to Corrado, much to the chagrin of Don Giovanni who is quite taken with the maid.

Don Giovanni attempts to woo Lilla, but she resists his charms. She confirms her love for Lubino.

As they exit, Tita enters arguing with Ghita. Lisargo follows and interrupts them. Lubino then appears looking for Lilla, whereupon Lisargo departs. Not finding her, Lubino swears vengeance if anything should have happened to Lilla. Lisargo, however, returns with his men to arrest Lubino. Alone, Ghita admonishes Tita to allow the marriage between Lilla and Lubino.

Ghita goes to the Queen's residence where she finds Lilla. They argue but are interrupted by the Queen. She sends Ghita to bring Tita and Lubino. Meanwhile, Corrado tells Lilla of Don Giovanni's love for her. The Prince arrives to renew his courting. Lilla hides when Lubino interrupts them. He asks the Prince for help. The Queen reappears and Lubino repeats his request. Tita and Ghita arrive. The Queen orders Lubino and Lilla to be released. Lilla emerges from her hiding place. To a suspicious Lubino, Corrado attests to the Lilla's loyalty. The Queen orders that there shall be a double marriage of Tita to Ghita and Lubino to Lilla. All are forgiven.

Act Two

While Lubino and Tita are purchasing presents for their betrothed, Ghita tries to convince Lilla to yield to the Prince's courtship. She enumerates the many advantages, including the acquisition of many gifts. Corrado arrives. He too urges Lilla to accept the Prince's advances. Lilla resists these attempts.

The Queen arrives with the Prince. He asks for permission to attend the wedding ceremonies. Lubino and Tita arrives with their gifts, which they present to the Queen. The Queen accepts them and gives them to Lilla and Ghita.

Don Giovanni and Corrado discuss Lilla's refusal to accept the Prince. Lilla and Ghita are looking for Lubino and Tita, who are late. In the darkness, they see two figures whom they believe are Lubino and Tita. They soon discover that they are the Prince and Corrado. Lubino and Tita arrive at that moment, their suspicions aroused.

Later that evening, they vent their suspicions, which are fiercely denounced as baseless. As all doubts are dispelled, the Prince arrives to serenade Lilla. A confrontation ensues. Lisargo comes forward so as not to compromise the Prince. In hiding, the Prince fires his pistol to prevent more of his followers from coming. Lubino and Tita attack Lisargo with the help of Lilla and Ghita. The Prince comes forth to bring peace. Tita angrily walks away, followed by Ghita.

After finding presents given by the Prince, Tita remains suspicious. Tita tries to turn Lubino against Lilla. Lubino, however, remains steadfast. Nonetheless, Tita convinces Lubino to go to the Queen to seek justice. Lubino asks who is trying to seduce his betrothed. The Prince asks Corrado not to reveal the truth. Corrado then steps forward and accepts the blame. The Queen dismisses him and orders him to be sent into exile.

Lilla and Ghita enter and thank the Queen for upholding their honor. The Queen returns to the hunt with all in celebration.

Click here for the complete libretto.

Click here for a biographical essay on Martín y Soler.


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