Il cappello di paglia di Firenze
Il cappello di paglia di Firenze (literally translated as The Florentine Straw Hat but usually titled in English language productions as The Italian Straw Hat) is an opera by Nino Rota to an Italian-language libretto by the composer and Ernesta Rota, based on the play Le chapeau de paille d'Italie by Eugène Labiche and Marc Michel.
The opera premièred at the Teatro Massimo, Palermo on 21 April 1955. The first performance in the United States was at the Santa Fe Opera in 1977, with Stephen Dickson in the supporting role of Emilio. The first New York City performance, starring Vincenzo Manno as Fadinard, took place in 1978. More recently, the opera was performed at the 2013 Wexford Festival.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, April 21, 1955
(Conductor: Jonel Perlea)
|Fadinard, a bridegroom||tenor||Nicola Filacuridi|
|Elena, Fadinard's bride||soprano||Ornella Rovero|
|Anaide, wife of Beaupertuis||soprano||Mafalda Micheluzzi|
|Emilio, Anaide's lover||baritone||Otello Borgonovo|
|Nonancourt, Elena's father||bass||Alfredo Mariotti|
|Felice, Fadinard's servant||tenor||Mario Ferrara|
|A milliner||soprano||Luisa Talamini|
|La Baronessa di Champigny||mezzo-soprano||Anna Maria Rota|
|Minardi, a famous violinist||spoken role||Carmelo Alongi|
|Beaupertuis, husband of Anaide||baritone||Guglielmo Ferrara|
|Vézinet, Elena's uncle||tenor||Renato Ercolani|
|Viscount Achille de Rosalba||tenor||Vittorio Pandano|
|A corporal of the guard||baritone||Leonardo Ciriminna|
|A guardsman||tenor||Caetano Crinzi|
|Wedding guests, milliners, the Baroness's guests, guards|
- Place: Paris
- Time: 1850
Fadinard arrives to make sure that the plans for his marriage with Elena are under control, but almost immediately Anaida and Emilio appear, complaining that Anaida's straw hat has been eaten by Fadinard's horse. A replacement hat is needed immediately, or Anaida's jealous husband Beaupertuis will smell a rat. The lovers hide when Elena, her father (Nonancourt), her uncle Vézinet and the other wedding-guests, arrive. Fadinard had sent his servant Felice out to obtain a duplicate hat, but when he returns without success, Fadinard, threatened by Emilio, has to set out to find a duplicate hat.
Scene 1: A milliner's shop
One of the milliners tells Fadinard that the last Italian straw hat has been sold to the Baronessa di Champigny. He hurries away to her villa.
Scene 2: The Baronessa di Champigny's villa
When Fadinard arrives, the Baronessa assumes that he is Minardi, the famous violinist, who has been engaged to entertain her guests. Fadinard does not correct her, but when the real Minardi appears, he concentrates on the whereabouts of the hat. It seems that she has passed the hat on to Anaide, the wife of Beaupertuis. Fadinard's guests have been pursuing him, but when they arrive he disappears in the direction of Beaupertuis's house, while the wedding party is entertained by Minardi and his pianist.
Early in the evening, Beaupertuis is annoyed that his wife has not returned from a lengthy trip to the shops and suspects that she is having an affair. Fadinard arrives in search of the straw hat but fails to find it.
A street in Paris
Films and recordings
Two movies of the opera have been made, both by RAI and initially for Italian television. Gregoretti shot the first in 1974 at Cinecittà; it was first broadcast in January 1975. Its celebrated soundtrack, recorded at RCA studios in Italy, was conducted by Rota himself and starred mezzo-soprano Viorica Cortez as well as such other respected opera singers as Daniela Mazzucato, Ugo Benelli, Alfredo Mariotti, Mario Basiola, and Giorgio Zancanaro; it was originally released by RCA and has more recently been available on the Ricordi label (with Mazzucato's name misspelled). Copies of the Gregoretti movie itself, quite rare to find, make collector's items, though the movie is preserved and was screened as recently as 2009 in Italy for IRTEM members.
The second movie was made in 1999 under the direction of Pier Luigi Pizzi. Bruno Campanella led a cast headed by Juan Diego Flórez, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz, Francesca Franci, Alfonso Antoniozzi, and Giovanni Furlanetto.
- Il cappello di paglia di Firenze Del Teatro, sourced 15 Nov. 2010, (Italian)
- Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, The Guardian, 24 October 2013, review by George Hall
- Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia: Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, 21 Aprile 1955