Griselda (Vivaldi)

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Dramma per musica by Antonio Vivaldi
Griselda by Vivaldi Libretto Cover.jpg
Cover of the libretto for the premiere
LibrettistApostolo Zeno, Carlo Goldoni
18 May 1735 (1735-05-18)

Griselda (Italian pronunciation: [ɡriˈzɛlda]) is a dramma per musica in three acts that was composed by Antonio Vivaldi. The opera uses a revised version of the 1701 Italian libretto by Apostolo Zeno that was based on Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron (X, 10, "The Patient Griselda").[1] The celebrated Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni was hired to adapt the libretto for Vivaldi. The opera was first performed in Venice at the Teatro San Samuele on 18 May 1735.[2]

Composition history[edit]

Michael Talbot notes that "the particular fame of this opera arises from the fact that it involved a collaboration with Goldoni," although one which was initially fraught with problems,[3] but he goes on to note that the two men eventually worked out an amicable compromise in the revision of an old libretto to fit the vocal limitations of the first Griselda, Anna Girò.

Performance history[edit]

The opera's first modern performance was in concert on 11 May 1978 in the English Bach Festival with John Eliot Gardiner as conductor.[4][5] The opera was given its UK theatrical premiere on 23 July 1983 as part of the Buxton Festival, while in the US, it was not presented until 2000.[6]

Today, Griselda is rarely performed, but it featured as one of the 2011 festival season presentations of The Santa Fe Opera. Pinchgut Opera (Sydney) staged four performances November–December 2011 in the City Recital Hall and in Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theatre in June 2012 in concert form with Francesconi, Franco, Nardotto, Bitar, Christensson and Faria conducted by Marco Pace. Two arias from the opera have become popular concert pieces with singers such as Cecilia Bartoli and Simone Kermes. These are "Agitata da due venti" from act 2 and "Dopo un'orrida procella" from act 3.

On the 12 October 2019, Irish National Opera staged a production of the work in Galway's Town Hall Theatre. This was the first ever performance of any Vivaldi opera in Ireland.[7]


Role Voice type[8] Premiere Cast,
18 May 1735[8]
Gualtiero, King of Thessaly tenor Gregorio Babbi[9]
Griselda, wife of Gualtiero contralto Anna Girò
Costanza, their daughter, unknown to Griselda, in love with Roberto soprano Margherita Giacomazzi
Roberto, an Athenian Prince, in love with Costanza soprano castrato Gaetano Valletta
Ottone, a Thessalian nobleman soprano castrato Lorenzo Saletti
Corrado, Roberto's brother, friend of Gualtiero soprano (en travesti) Elisabetta Gasparini
Everardo, son of Gualterio and Griselda silent Unknown


Act 1[edit]

Years before the action begins, Gualtiero, King of Thessaly, had married a poor shepherdess, Griselda. The marriage was deeply unpopular with the king's subjects and when a daughter, Costanza, was born, the king had to pretend to have her killed while secretly sending her to be brought up by Prince Corrado of Athens. Now, after the recent birth of a son has led to another rebellion from the Thessalians against Griselda as a queen, Gualtiero is forced to dismiss her and promises to take a new wife. The proposed bride is in fact Costanza, who is unaware of her true parentage and unknown to Griselda. She is in love with Corrado's younger brother, Roberto, and the thought of being forced to marry Gualtiero drives her to despair.

Act 2[edit]

Costanza sings of her torn affections (betrothed to Gualtiero but in love with Roberto) in the coloratura aria Agitata da due venti. Griselda returns to her home in the countryside where she is pursued by the villainous courtier Ottone, who is completely besotted with her and has surreptitiously fomented the popular uprisings in order to derail her marriage. She angrily rejects his advances. Gualtiero and his followers go out hunting and come across Griselda's cottage. Gualtiero foils an attempt by Ottone to kidnap Griselda and allows her back to the court, but only as Costanza's slave.

Act 3[edit]

Ottone still resolutely pursues Griselda and Gualtiero promises him her hand as soon as he himself has married Costanza. Griselda absolutely refuses and declares she would rather die. At this point, Gualtiero embraces her, having demonstrated her virtue to the rebellious people, and takes her back as his wife. Gualtiero and Corrado reveal the true identity of Costanza, Ottone is pardoned and the girl is allowed to marry Roberto.


Year Cast
(Griselda, Gualtiero,
Roberto, Costanza,
Ottone, Corrado)
Opera House and Orchestra
2006 Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Steffano Ferrari
Philippe Jaroussky
Verónica Cangemi
Simone Kermes
Iestyn Davies
Jean-Christophe Spinosi
Ensemble Matheus
Audio CD: naïve
2008 Marion Newman
Giles Tomkins
Lynne McMurtry
Carla Huhtanen
Colin Ainsworth
Kevin Mallon
Aradia Ensemble
Audio CD: Naxos
Cat: 8.660211-13[2]
2011 Caitlin Hulcup
Christopher Saunders
Tobias Cole
Miriam Allan
David Hansen
Russell Harcourt
Erin Helyard
Pinchgut Opera
Audio CD: Pinchgut Opera



  1. ^ Eric Cross: "Griselda (iv)", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed November 21, 2008), (subscription access)
  2. ^ a b Dominic McHugh, "Vivaldi: Griselda", review of the 2008 Naxos recording on Retrieved 14 May 2011
  3. ^ Holden, p. 1018
  4. ^ "BBC Radio 3, listings 19 Oct 1978". Retrieved 2 Dec 2016
  5. ^ Eric Cross, "Vivaldi as Opera Composer: 'Griselda'" The Musical Times, Vol. 119, No. 1623 (May, 1978), pp. 411-413+415-416
  6. ^ Michael Talbot, "Griselda" in Holden, p. 1017
  7. ^ "Irish National Opera presents Antonio Vivaldi's Griselda - News". Irish National Opera. 2017-10-02. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  8. ^ a b According to Reinhard Strohm, II, p. 563.
  9. ^ Erroneously spelled "Balbi" in the original libretto (Strohm, II, p. 563).


  • Amanda Holden (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Reinhard Strohm, The operas of Antonio Vivaldi, Florence: Olschki, 2008. ISBN 978-88-222-5682-9

External links[edit]