Betly

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Betly, ossia La capanna svizzera ("Betly, or The Swiss Chalet") is a dramma giocoso in two acts (originally one) by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. The composer wrote the Italian libretto after Eugène Scribe and Anne-Honoré-Joseph Duveyrier de Mélésville's libretto for Adolphe Adam's opéra comique Le chalet, in its turn based on Goethe's Singspiel Jery und Bätely (1779).[1][2]

Performance history[edit]

The opera premiered at the Teatro Nuovo (it) in Naples on 24 August 1836.[3][4][5][6] The initial performance was not well-received due to the vocal decline of Giuseppe Fioravanti, the performer of the baritone role. However, the revision prepared by Donizetti for subsequent performances was a marked success.[7] This success prompted the composer to expand the opera from one act to two acts. The two-act version of Betly was first presented on 29 September 1837 at the Teatro del Fondo, Naples.[3][5] Other Italian cities, where performances of the opera were given, include:[8] Palermo in 1837,[9] Florence in 1838,[10] Bologna in 1845,[11] Venice in 1851,[12] and Messina in 1859.[13] The opera was also performed in Lisbon in 1837,[14] in Madrid in 1842,[15][16] and in Barcelona in 1844.[17] It was transformed into a Spanish zarzuela Propósito de mujer by Emilio Álvarez in 1864[18] and presented the same year in Madrid.[19]

The first American performance of the complete opera took place on 25 October 1861 in Philadelphia,[9] followed by the one on 28 October 1861 in New York;[20] fragments of the opera were heard in concerts already in 1840s.[21] One notable performance in London was on 9 January 1838, with Frederick Lablache singing the baritone role;[9][22] the English adaptation of Betly was presented there for the first time in 1841.[23]

The French adaptation, prepared by Hippolyte-Julien-Joseph Lucas after the death of the composer, with additional music written by Adolphe Adam,[24][25] premiered in Paris in 1853,[4] but had little success.[24][25][26]

The German premiere of Betly was in Berlin in 2015 in a semi-staged performance by Berliner Operngruppe.[27]

The opera was staged sporadically in the 20th and 21st centuries: in Bergamo in 1948,[3] 1968,[3][28] 1993,[29] and 2014;[30][31][32][33] in Fermo in 1988;[34] in Lugo in 1990;[35] in Lugano in 1933;[14] in London in 1954[36] and 1995;[37] and in Berlin in 2015.

Roles[edit]

Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 24 August 1836
(Conductor: - )
Daniele, young landowner tenor Lorenzo Salvi
Max, Swiss sergeant baritone Giuseppe Fioravanti
Betly, Max's sister soprano Adelaide Toldi
Swiss peasants and soldiers

Synopsis[edit]

The synopsis below refers to the two-act version of the opera following the Casa Ricordi edition of its libretto current in the 20th century.

Time: 18th century
Place: Appenzell, Switzerland

Daniele Birman, a young Swiss landowner, is in love with Betly, a beautiful and independent girl, who, however, doesn't return his feelings. As the opera begins, the inhabitants of Appenzell have prepared for a joke a fake love letter from Betly to Daniele, accepting his marriage proposal. The young man is elated and invites the villagers to his wedding celebrations. Soon after, Betly arrives and discovers the situation. Even though she momentarily feels pity for Daniele, she dashes his hopes and resolutely rejects his pleas for marriage.

Sad Daniele stumbles upon a troop of Swiss soldiers under the command of Sergeant Max Starner, and out of desperation tries to enlist in the army. Daniele confides in Max, not realizing he is Betly's brother gone from the Canton of Appenzell for fifteen years, to whom he has recently sent a letter informing of his intention to marry Betly, and whose encouragement he has received. Max decides to teach his sister a lesson and secure a happy ending for Daniele. To that end, he orders his soldiers to turn Betly's house upside down. The soldiers eagerly obey and demand food and alcohol from Betly. Max conceals his identity from the sister, and frightens her into believing that if after fifteen days he and his troop depart satisfied, she will have to house the entire regiment.

Betly begs Daniele to stay with her for a day, in order to keep the unruly soldiers at bay. Overjoyed Daniele agrees, while Betly starts to feel sympathy for him. Max pretends to be drunk and makes false advances on Betly, who calls upon Daniele's help. After an argument Max challenges Daniele to a duel at midnight, which the latter accepts. For Max the duel is just a vehicle to bring Daniele and Betly together. To calm down anxious Betly, Daniele tells her that the sergeant has apologized, then swears eternal love to her and says he is leaving to join the army. At this moment Max reappears and pretends he will fight with Daniele. Betly, by now feeling a genuine affection for Daniele, attempts to prevent the duel and to save Daniele from being killed. Max says he may well show clemency if he knew Daniele were married. Upon hearing this, Betly gathers her courage and claims Daniele is in fact her husband, and father of the family, for that matter. As a proof of her words, Max first forces Betly and Daniele to embrace each other, and next demands the marriage contract to be shown. Betly finds and signs the document, that was already signed by a deceived Daniele in preparation for his "wedding". She gives the contract to Max and secretly tells Daniele that this is a ruse: in order to be valid, the document must also be signed by her brother Max. Once Max has the papers in his hands, he quickly signs them and reveals his identity. Betly proclaims her love for Daniele and the story happily concludes.

Structure[edit]

The information below refers to the two-act version of the opera as appearing in an older edition by Casa Ricordi current in the 20th century.[38] Further stages of Donizetti's reworking of the opera are reflected in a newer critical edition by the same publisher.[39] Given Donizetti's readiness to adapt to external conditions and a particular choice of singers by adding, subtracting or modifying musical numbers, it is impossible to talk of a definitive version of Betly beyond a general classification into the one-act and two-act versions.[40]

  • Overture

Act 1[edit]

  • Daniele and Chorus: Introduction Gia l'aurora in cielo appar and Cavatina E fia ver?
  • Daniele: Recitative Amici miei
  • Betly: Cavatina In questo semplice, modesto asilo
  • Betly and Daniele: Recitative Ho mangiato e bene & Duet Ah! Io sognai che me beato
  • Daniele: Recitative È finita per me
  • Max and Chorus: Choir Maledetta la vita di stento, Recitative Alto facciam, compagni & Cavatina Ti vedo, ti bacio, terreno natio
  • Max: Recitative Al riposo, compagni
  • Max and Daniele: Recitative Oh, giovinotto, dimmi
  • Betly, Max, Chorus: Scene, Choir and Finale primo Per questa via remota

Act 2[edit]

  • Chorus: Introduction Che si tarda?
  • Betly, Max and Chorus: Recitative Lasciatemi... che volete da me? and Brindisi I destini del soldato
  • Betly and Daniele: Recitative Tutto il giorno and Duet Dolce instante inaspettato
  • Betly, Daniele and Max: Recitative Che! L'ha fatto restar and terzetto Davvero la scelta è buona
  • Daniele and Max: Recitative Bassa la voce & Duet O la bella immantinente
  • Betly, Max, Daniele and Chorus: Recitative Mi reggo appena in piè & Aria finale Se crudele il cor mostrai

Analysis[edit]

Donizetti's work on Betly fell on difficult years in his life, marked by the loss of his parents, daughter, and wife, and troubles due to the opera mismanagement in Naples. Nevertheless, the opera attests to the composer's creative powers.[41]

With its rustic setting, a baritone soldier, and an independent and beautiful soprano, initially resisting courtship by a good-natured tenor, the plot of Betly bears an obvious resemblance to Donizetti's earlier work, L'elisir d'amore.[1][31][33] Characters in the opera are depicted with mastery and vivacity,[34] the music is tuneful,[31][33] and the orchestration refined.[34] The universal confusion at the end of Act 1, with Betly confronting Max and his soldiers, resembles the one typical of Rossini's operas.[42] The "Swiss" character of the work is highlighted by employing a yodel-type figure in Betly's cavatina In questo semplice, modesto asilo.[1][31] The latter aria was appreciated by musical critics of the 19th century for its charm and freshness, and was a popular choice as a concert piece.[25][26][43][44] Betly also features an amusing instance of a musical joke: sleepy Daniele contributes notated yawns to Betly's concluding cadenza in their duet Dolce instante inaspettato.[45] Furthermore, the duet of Daniele and Max Ah! Mi sprona la gloria presents a subtle parody of "heroic" duets of tenors and baritones, of which Donizetti himself wrote several.[34]

The principal differences between the one-act and two-act versions of the opera are the addition of an overture, replacement of spoken dialogues with recitatives set to music,[30] addition and expansion of musical numbers,[30][42] and transposition of the soprano role down a semitone.[30]

Recordings[edit]

Betly's cavatina In questo semplice, modesto asilo has been recorded by three leading Bel canto repertory exponents of the 20th century, Dame Joan Sutherland,[46] Montserrat Caballé[47] and Margherita Carosio.[48]

There are two full-length recordings of the opera:

Year Cast:
Betly, Daniele, Max
Conductor,
Opera House and Orchestra
Label[49]
1949 Angelica Tuccari,
Giuseppe Gentile,
Nestore Catalani
Giuseppe Morelli,
Orchestra e Coro della Società del Quartetto di Roma
LP record: Period Records,
Cat: SPL 585
1990 Susanna Rigacci,
Maurizio Comencini,
Roberto Scaltriti
Bruno Rigacci,
Orchestra Sinfonica dell'Emilia Romagna "Arturo Toscanini" and Chorus of Teatro Rossini di Lugo
Audio CD: Bongiovanni,
Cat: GB 2091/92-2

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Ashbrook (1982), p. 387.
  2. ^ Pendle, Karin (1974). The transformation of a libretto: Goethe's 'Jery and Bätely'. Music and Letters, LV (1): 77-88.
  3. ^ a b c d Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Betly". Almanacco Amadeus. Retrieved 30 October 2015 (Italian).
  4. ^ a b Albinati, Giuseppe (1912). Piccolo dizionario di opere teatrali, oratori, cantate, ecc. ("Betly") Milano: G. Ricordi & C. Retrieved 1 November 2015 (Italian).
  5. ^ a b Cassaro, James P. (2009). Gaetano Donizetti: A Research and Information Guide ("Betly, ossia La capanna svizzera"). Routledge. ISBN 1135846596
  6. ^ Ashbrook (1982), pp. 109 and 638, notes 80-81, gives the premiere date as 21 August 1836, and refers to a personal communication by John Black.
  7. ^ Ashbrook (1982), p. 109.
  8. ^ Whether the one-act or two-act version was executed, is not always indicated in the sources.
  9. ^ a b c Mesa, Franklin (2007). Opera: An Encyclopedia of World Premieres and Significant Performances, Singers, Composers, Librettists, Arias and Conductors, 1597-2000 ("Betly, osia La capanna svizzera"). Jefferson, North Carolina and London:McFarland. ISBN 0786409592 Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  10. ^ Cronaca teatrale: Firenze. Glissons, n'appuyons pas. Anno 6, N. 2, 5 gennaio 1839, p. 7. Retrieved 2 November 2015 (Italian).
  11. ^ Betly: opera giocosa in due atti. Bologna: Tipografia Sassi. 1845. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  12. ^ Locatelli, Tommaso (it). L'appendice della Gazzetta di Venezia ("Società drammatico-musicale nella Sala Donizetti in Casa Camploy. La Betly del maestro Donizetti"), Venezia: Tipografia della Gazzetta, 1874. Retrieved 2 November 2015 (Italian).
  13. ^ Teatri e spettacoli: Messina. La Fama: rassegna di scienze, lettere, arti, industria e teatri. Anno XVIII, N. 23, lunedì, 21 marzo 1859, p. 91. Retrieved 2 November 2015 (Italian).
  14. ^ a b Loewenberg (1978), 781-782.
  15. ^ Carmena y Millán, Luis (1904). Cosas del pasado: música, literatura y tauromaquia (p. 61). Madrid: Imprenta Ducazcal. Retrieved 2 November 2015 (Spanish)
  16. ^ Cambronero, Carlos (es) (1896). Crónicas del tiempo de Isabel II (p. 103). Madrid: La España Moderna. Retrieved 2 November 2015 (Spanish)
  17. ^ Virella Cassañes, Francisco (ca) (1888). La ópera en Barcelona, estudio histórico-crítico (p. 270). Barcelona: Establecimiento tipográfico de Redondo y Xumetra. Retrieved 2 November 2015 (Spanish).
  18. ^ Álvarez, Emilio (1864). Propósito de mujer : zarzuela en un acto y en verso. Madrid: Imprenta de Cristóbal González. Retrieved 28 November 2015 (Spanish).
  19. ^ Saldoni, Baltasar (es) (1880). Diccionario biográfico-bibliográfico de efemérides de músicos españoles ("Dia 21, 1837"). Madrid: Imprenta de D. Antonio Perez Dubrull. , Vol. 2, p. 565. Retrieved 28 November 2015 (Spanish).
  20. ^ Music in New York: Academy of Music. The Musical Review and Musical World. November 9, 1861, p. 267. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  21. ^ Lawrence, Vera Brodsky (1999). Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong, Volume 3. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226470156 Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  22. ^ Theatres: Opera Buffa, Lyceum. The Court Magazine and Monthly Critic, and the Lady's Magazine and Museum. Vol. XII, February 1838, p. 203. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  23. ^ Songs, Duets, Choruses, etc., etc., etc., in the Opera Buffa Entitled Betly. Soho: W. S. Johnson, "Nassau Steam Press" (n.d.). Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  24. ^ a b Chouquet, Gustave (1873). Histoire de la musique dramatique en France depuis ses origines jusqu'à nos jours (Betly). Paris: Typographie Ambroise Firmin Didot. Retrieved 1 November 2015 (French).
  25. ^ a b c Bousquet, Georges (de). Académie impériale de musique: Betly, opéra en deux actes, paroles de M. Hippolyte Lucas, musique de Donizetti. Revue et gazette musicale de Paris. 21e Année, 1er Janvier 1854, pp. 2-3. Retrieved 1 November 2015 (French)
  26. ^ a b Clément, Félix (fr), and Larousse, Pierre (1873). Dictionnaire lyrique, ou Histoire des opéras: contenant l'analyse et la nomenclature de tous les opéras et opéras-comiques représentés en France et à l'étranger, depuis l'origine de ce genre d'ouvrages jusqu'à nos jours (Betly). Paris: Imprimerie Pierre Larousse. Retrieved 1 November 2015 (French).
  27. ^ Hanssen, Frederik. Donizettis "Betly" im Konzerthaus: In Appenzell verliebt man sich schnell. Der Tagesspiegel. Retrieved 19 November 2015 (German).
  28. ^ Gualerzi, Giorgio. Italy: Donizetti - 1828 vintage. Opera, December 1968, pp. 998-999.
  29. ^ Morandi, Daniela. Il ritorno di "Betly". Una tigre solitaria che cede all'amore. Corriere della Sera (27 settembre 2014). Retrieved 1 November 2015 (Italian).
  30. ^ a b c d Boaretto, Danilo. Bergamo Musica Festival "G. Donizetti" - Teatro Sociale: Betly. OperaClick. Retrieved 26 October 2015 (Italian).
  31. ^ a b c d Jernigan, Charles. Bergamo Musica Festival, 2014: Donizetti's Torquato Tasso & Betly. Donizetti Society. Retrieved 26 October 2015 (Italian).
  32. ^ Morandi, Daniela. Betly capricciosa ma conquista tutti. Corriere della Sera (28 settembre 2014). Retrieved 1 November 2015 (Italian).
  33. ^ a b c Dellabianca, Andrea. Bergamo Musica Festival 2014: "Betly". GBopera Magazine. Retrieved 26 October 2015 (Italian).
  34. ^ a b c d Lo Presti, Fulvio and Branca, Giacomo (1988). Festival di Fermo: con Donizetti alla Rocca Tiepolo una bella sera d'estate (25 luglio 1988) - "La romanziera e l'uomo nero" e "Betly". Donizetti Society. Newsletter 46. Retrieved 31 October 2015 (Italian).
  35. ^ De Angelis, Marcello. Le buffe nozze di Donizetti. La Repubblica (17 gennaio 1990). Retrieved 1 November 2015 (Italian).
  36. ^ Goodwin, Noël. London Music: Opera Comica di Roma at Sadler's Well. The Musical Times Vol. 95, No. 1336 (Jun., 1954), p. 323.
  37. ^ Blewitt, David. Betly and Pagliacci: Opera Europa at the Holland Park Theatre, 8 August. Opera, October 1995, pp. 1228-1229.
  38. ^ OCLC 20037340
  39. ^ OCLC 670480553
  40. ^ Fondazione Donizetti Bergamo. Betly. Retrieved 21 November 2015 (Italian).
  41. ^ Ashbrook (1982), p. 110.
  42. ^ a b Ashbrook (1982), pp. 387-389.
  43. ^ The Musical World ("Provincial: Manchester, Liverpool"). Vol. XXII, No. 39, 25 September 1847, p. 622. London: W. S. Johnson, "Nassau Steam Press". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  44. ^ García Martín, Luis (1860). Manual de teatros y espectáculos públicos (p. 38) Madrid: Imp. de Cristóbal González. Retrieved 3 November 2015 (Spanish)
  45. ^ Ashbrook (1982), p. 389.
  46. ^ OCLC 14988052
  47. ^ OCLC 4827107
  48. ^ OCLC 276896034
  49. ^ Recordings on operadis-opera-discography.org.uk and donizetti.org/fd/musica/betly

Sources

External links[edit]