La zingara

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La zingara (The Gypsy Girl) is an opera semiseria in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti, set to a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola after La petite bohémienne (The Little Gypsy) by Louis-Charles Caigniez, which was itself derived from a work of August von Kotzebue.

It was Donizetti's first opera written for Naples, and the first performance took place at the Teatro Nuovo on 12 May 1822.

One critic reviewing the 2001 recording from the Festival della Valle d'Itria, made the following observations about the opera:

Despite its moronic libretto, the opera was an enormous success at its premiere in Naples in 1822, and even Bellini wrote nice things about the second-act septet[1] in which Donizetti mixes buffo and serious characters, as well as Neapolitan dialect (there are no recitatives; numbers are separated by spoken dialogue) with "pure" Italian, and the absurd plot is (sort of) held together by the clever Argilla, who under the guise of telling fortunes gains entry to people's feelings as well as to every area of the castle. Is it a masterpiece? Even close? No, but there are niceties galore—rhythmic arias and ensembles, good (if typical) characterizations, and good tunes.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 12 May 1822
(Conductor: - )
Argilla mezzo-soprano Giacinta Canonici
Ines soprano Caterina Monticelli
Fernando tenor Marco Venier
Don Ranuccio Zappador bass Carlo Moncada
Don Sebastiano Alvarez bass Giuseppe Fioravanti
Duca d'Alziras tenor Alessandro Busti
Papaccione buffo Carlo Casaccia
Amelia soprano Francesca Ceccherini
Ghita soprano Clementina Grassi
Manuelita soprano Marianna Grassi
Antonio Alvarez baritone Raffaele Sarti
Sguiglio baritone Raffaele Casaccia
Domestici di Zappador e di zingari, chorus


Time: The middle ages
Place: Spain

Don Ranuccio has imprisoned Don Sebastiano in his castle and he also wants to kill the Duke of Alziras, his political rival. Ranuccio's daughter Ines is in love with Fernando, but her father wants her to marry Antonio who is Don Sebastiano's nephew.

Argilla, the gypsy girl of the title, brings together the lovers Ferrando and Ines, saves the life of the Duke, whom she brings together again with his brother, and frees Don Sebastiano, who turns out to be her father. Comedy is provided by the servant Pappacione, fooled into searching for gold in an old cistern. All ends happily.


Year Cast
(Argilla, Ines,
Don Sebastiano Alvarez, Duca d'Alziras)
Opera House and Orchestra
2001 Manuela Custer,
Rosita Ramini,
Massimiliano Barbolini,
Piero Terranova,
Cataldo Gallone
Arnold Bosman,
Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia and Bratislava Chamber Chorus
(Recorded at the Festival della Valle d'Itria, Martina Franca, July)
Audio CD: Dynamic
Cat: CDS396/1-2



  1. ^ Osborne 1994, p. 146: He notes that this was an "adumbration" of the famous sextet which appeared 13 years later in Lucia di Lammermoor
  2. ^ Robert Levine, "Donizetti - La zingara Review of 2002 recording on Retrieved 23 December 2013
  3. ^ Recording(s) on

Cited sources

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