Un giorno di regno
Un giorno di regno, ossia il finto Stanislao (A One-Day Reign, or The Pretend Stanislaus, but often translated into English as King for a Day) is an operatic melodramma giocoso in two acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto written in 1818 for the Bohemian composer Adalbert Gyrowetz by Felice Romani, based on the play Le faux Stanislas written by the Frenchman Alexandre Vincent Pineu-Duval in 1808. Un giorno was given its premiere performance at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan on 5 September 1840.
After the success of his first opera, Oberto in 1839, Verdi received a commission from La Scala impresario Merelli to write three more operas. Un giorno was first of the three, but he wrote the piece during a period when first his children and then his wife died and its failure in 1840 caused the young composer to almost abandon opera. It was not until he was enticed to write the music for the existing libretto of what became Nabucco that Verdi restarted his career.
After Oberto and after Merelli returned from Vienna in early 1840, he needed a comedy to be written for the autumn season. Asked to select a libretto by Romani which already existed, Verdi notes that he did not like any of them but "because the matter was of some urgency, I chose the one which seemed to me to be the least bad".
Premiere and other 19th century performances
The first performance at La Scala on 5 September 1840 was a failure, and La Scala cancelled the remaining scheduled performances. They did not revive the work until 2001. Verdi would not attempt another operatic comedy until the end of his career with Falstaff.
At the premiere Verdi was seated in the orchestra pit, and thus heard the audience reaction directly. Along with the critics, Verdi acknowledged that the failure was partly due to his own personal circumstances, since his two children (the first in 1838, the second in 1839) and then, in June 1840, his wife Margherita Barezzi had died, all during the period leading up to and during its composition. A contributing factor was that the only singers La Scala's impresario had available were those assembled for an opera seria, Otto Nicolai's Il templario, and they had no experience with comedy: "The cast had been assembled chiefly for the performance of the season's most successful novelty, Il templario, Nicolai's version of Ivanhoe". Other factors which have been noted include the large size of La Scala itself (noted by George Martin as "too big for the piece") plus the rather old-fashioned nature of the work which was written in a style that was rapidly going out of fashion. In fact, in summary, Budden notes that "by the side of [Donizetti's] L'elisir d'amore or Don Pasquale, it cuts a clumsy figure".
Other productions in Italy during Verdi's lifetime seemed to fare better; it was given in Venice in 1845 (as Il finto Stanislao, where it did well), in Rome in 1846, and Naples (also as Il finto Stanislao) in 1859.
20th century and beyond
Today, the opera is rarely performed. In the U.S., it received its premiere on 18 June 1960, while in the UK, the premiere took place on 21 March 1961. It was part of the San Diego Opera's June 1981 "Verdi Festival". Along with Oberto and other early Verdi operas, it opened the New York Grand Opera Company’s "Viva Verdi!" series of presentation of all Verdi's operas in chronological order under Vincent La Selva in July 1994. The Bronx Opera Company (NYC) has performed it twice, in 1983 and 1994.
With the temporary shutdown of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1999, the Royal Opera gave a concert performance at the Royal Festival Hall. Russian baritone Vladimir Chernov sang the "King" with John Del Carlo as Baron Kelbar; Susanne Mentzer sang Giuletta. This presentation was followed in 2001 with a staged production at the Buxton Festival in England. 
In 2008, Opera della Luna toured a version of the opera in the UK. In director Jeff Clarke's broad English-language adaptation, the story is moved to post-war Italy around the reign of Umberto II, infused with elements of organized crime, and political humour is added. One reviewer commented that the production "makes up for what it lacks in bel canto elegance by being a riotously funny, enormously enjoyable evening's entertainment".
However, Sarasota Opera presented the new critical edition of the opera in March 2013, the 29th work of the complete Verdi canon (in all its versions) to be presented by the company. Dr. Francesco Izzo, Co-Director of the American Institute for Verdi Studies and the critical edition's editor, notes that:
- This edition corrects a number of inaccuracies and arbitrary alterations present in other scores of the opera, which has often circulated under the title Il finto Stanislao. I have done my very best to provide an edition that faithfully reflects Verdi’s intentions throughout.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 5 September 1840
(Conductor: - Eugenio Cavallini)
|Cavaliere di Belfiore, a French officer
impersonating Stanislao of Poland
|Barone di Kelbar, the usurper||bass||Raffaele Scalese|
|The Marchesa del Poggio, a young widow,
the Baron's niece, in love with Belfiore
|Giulietta di Kelbar, the Baron's daughter||mezzo-soprano||Luigia Abbadia|
|Edoardo di Sanval, a young official,
la Rocca's nephew
|La Rocca, Treasurer to the Estates of
|Count Ivrea, Commandant of Brest,
engaged to the Marchesa
|Delmonte, esquire to the false Stanislao||bass||Napoleone Marconi|
|Servants, chambermaids, vassals of the Baron|
[The Polish monarch, King Stanisław Leszczyński, an historical figure during the War of Succession, lost his throne after the Saxon invasion at the Battle of Poltav in 1709. He regained it in 1733, but was again deposed in 1736 and went into exile in France. The opera is set in 1733 when Stanislaw returned to Poland leaving a French officer, the Cavaliere di Belﬁore, to impersonate him in France.]
- Time: 1733
- Place: Baron Kelbar's castle near Brest, France
Scene 1: A gallery in the home of Baron Kelbar 
Belfiore, impersonating the Polish king Stanislaus, is a guest at the home of Baron Kelbar and he comments to himself on his change of fortune: Compagnoni di Parigi...Verrà purtroppo il giorno / "If only my old comrades in Paris could see me now, the most dissolute officer in the regiment turned philosopher king."  The Baron has recently arranged a political alliance by betrothing his daughter, Giulietta, to La Rocca, the Brittany Treasurer, but Giulietta prefers La Rocca's nephew, Edoardo. Another undesired marriage involves the Baron's niece, the Marchesa del Poggio, a young widow who is in love with Belfiore. She has become engaged to the Count of Ivrea because Belfiore has been unable to commit himself to marrying her, in spite of the fact that he does love her.
Knowing of the Marchesa's imminent arrival and concerned that she might reveal his false identity as the King, Belfiore writes to Stanislaw and asks to be released from his commitment. Edoardo reveals his predicament to the "King" and begs to be taken to Poland with him in order to forget about the woman he loves. In addition, when the Marchesa arrives and, upon being introduced to Belfiore as "the King", she pretends not to recognize him. Likewise, he pretends not to recognize her, but she is determined to test him by proclaiming her love for the Count: Grave a core innamorato...Se dee cader la vedova / " ".
Scene 2: The Garden of Kelbar's castle
Giulietta is alone with her attendants and expresses unhappiness in having to marry an old man: ’Non san quant'io nel petto...Non vo' quel vecchio / " “. When the Count and La Rocca arrive, followed in succession by Belfiore and Edoardo and then the Marchesa (who was planning to help the lovers), Belfiore draws the Count and La Rocca away on the pretext of discussing state business, leaving the young lovers alone with the Marchesa.
Scene 3: The gallery of Kelbar’s castle
Maintaining his role as the King, Belfiore makes the Treasurer an offer of advancement which would include marriage to a rich widow. By accepting, he agrees not to marry Giulietta. When the treasurer tells the Baron that he refuses to marry his daughter, the Baron is affronted and challenges him to a duel. To add to the confusion all around, the Marchesa immediately proposes that Giulietta and Edoardo be married immediately. However, the false King returns and proposes that he will decide on a solution that will satisfy everyone.
Scene 1: The gallery of Kelbar’s castle
Following the "King's" pronouncement, the servants are mystified and they sing a carefree chorus which leads to Edoardo seeking their support and announcing his hope of still be able to marry Giulietta: Pietoso al lungo pianto...Deh lasciate a un alma amante / " ".
Belfiore, the Treasurer, and Giulietta enter discussing the reasons for the Baron's opposition to his daughter's marriage to Eduardo. Giulietta explains that the young man's poverty is the main objection and so Belfiore immediately rules that the Treasurer must give up one of his castles and give over a sum of money to the young man, and then all will be well. The latter is somewhat reluctant to disobey his sovereign, but seeks a way out of his duel with the Baron.
Scene 2: A veranda overlooking the castle gardens
Belfiore and the Marchesa meet on the veranda, the former still unable to reveal who he really is. This incenses the lady, who boldly states that it is her intention to marry the Count of Ivrea. However, she cannot understand why Belfiore is taking so long to reveal himself and still hopes for his change of heart: (andante) Si mostri a chi l'adora... / " ". When Count Ivrea is announced, she takes a defiant stand (cabaletta): Si, scordar saprò l'infido / " ". Since Eduardo has pledged to join the "King" when he goes to Poland, Giulietta is determined to get the King to rescind the commitment. The Count enters and the Marchesa once again states that she will marry the Count. However, Belfiore immediately forbids the marriage for 'reasons of state' and announces that he and the Count must leave for Poland to deal with state business.
All express their feelings, but things come to a halt when a letter arrives for Belfiore. It is from King Stanislaw announcing his safe arrival in Warsaw and releasing Belfiore from his task of impersonating him. In return, the king has created him Marshall of France. Before dropping the disguise, the "King" proclaims that Giulietta and Eduardo are to be married and, having received the Baron's consent, reads the true king's letter and reveals his true rank. He expresses his love for the Marchesa and all ends happily with the prospect of two weddings.
(Di Belfiore, Kelbar, Marchesa, Edoardo)
Opera House and Orchestra
Orchestra Lirica e Coro della RAI Milano
|Audio CD: Warner-Fonit
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ambrosian Singers
|Audio CD: Philips
Anna Caterina Antonacci,
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio di Parma,
(Recording of a performance on 31 January)
|DVD (Blu-ray, PAL): Unitel Classica
- Gossett, p. 37: Gossett goes on to note that "for many Italian librettists of the time, French operatic texts were a rich vein to be mined."
- Budden, p. 73
- Verdi quoted by Budden, p. 71; from Pougin, p. 43
- Budden, p. 71
- Martin, George (2013), "Un giorno di regno: Background" in Sarasota Opera's 2013 program book, p. 75
- Budden, p. 74
- Phillips-Matz, p. 184
- Martin, George (2003). "Verdi Onstage in the United States: Un giorno di regno". The Opera Quarterly 19 (1): 3–15. Retrieved 3 September 2007. Subscription only
- NYGO's repertory
- Forbes, Elizabeth, "United Kingdom: London", Opera Canada, Vol. 40, No. 3, Fall 1999: Forbes notes: "Verdi's second opera has received many brickbats, but when performed with such zest by the singers and such rhythmic vitality by the Covent Garden Orchestra under conductor Maurizio Benini, it becomes irresistible."
- Arblaster, Anthony, "Opera: Comedy Fit for Kings: Un Giorno di Regno: Buxton Opera House", The Independent (London), July 16, 2001
- Shirley, Hugo. "Verdi: Un giorno di regno", Musical Criticism, 26 July 2008, accessed 15 November 2009
- 2012 events page on abao.org. Retrieved 6 April 2013
- Gayle Williams, "Opera review: King for a Day a clever, charming production Herald-Tribune (Sarasota), 4 March 2013 online at arts.heraldtribune.com. Retrieved 9 March 2013
- Carrie Seidman, "A critically close look at a little-known Verdi opera", Herald-Tribune (Sarasota), 23 February 2013
- Press release announcement of 2013 season on glimmerglass.org Retrieved 27 March 2013
- Budden, p. 70.
- Scene titles and English translations taken from Budden, Vol. 1, pp.78-87
- Gossett, p. 605
- Recordings on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk
- Hertzmann , Erich, "Reviews of Records - Verdi: Un Giorno di Regno, Radio Italiana; Alfredo Simonetto/Verdi: Luisa Miller; Radio Italiana; Mario Rossi; Verdi", The Musical Quarterly, #38 (3), July 1952 ,pp. 498-500
- Budden, Julian, The Operas of Verdi, Volume 1: From Oberto to Rigoletto. London: Cassell, 1984. ISBN 0-304-310581.
- Gossett, Philip, Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008 ISBN 0-226-30482-5
- Pougin, A., Vita aneddotica di Giuseppe Verdi con note ed aggiunte di Folchetto. Milan, 1881. (In Italian)
- Phillips-Matz, Mary Jane, Verdi: A Biography, London & New York: Oxford University Press, 1993 ISBN 0193132044