I promise to do a more substantive post soon, but while surfing this weekend, I came across an opera of which I hadn’t heard before, Margherita d’Anjou by Giacomo Meyerbeer, with a libretto by Felice Romani. (Doesn’t using the word “libretto” make this blog seem ever-so-classy?) This is known as an opera semiseria, or a semi-serious opera. (Feel the high culture simply oozing from this blog today.)
As I understand the storyline, the opera, which premiered at La Scala in 1820, takes place in Scotland around 1462, when Margherita, widowed from Henry VI, is fighting to regain her throne, from which she has been removed by one Riccardo, our very own beloved Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the future Richard III. Margherita has other things on mind besides Riccardo, however; she’s having an affair with the Duke of Lavarenne, whose wife, Isaura, is understandably unhappy about this. Isaura disguises herself as a doctor’s page in order to win back her husband, and Margherita in turn disguises herself as a peasant in order to avoid detection by Riccardo. Eventually, the duke and his wife are reconciled, Riccardo is thwarted, and Belmonte, Margherita’s general who had defected to Riccardo, returns to her service. (I should point out before some irate Ricardian does that the real-life Richard was ten years old in 1462 and thus unlikely to be chasing Margaret of Anjou around Scotland at the time.)
The opera was revived in London in 2002; some reviews can be found here. It was also recorded; a review of the recording is here. Some more information about the opera (from which the summary above was largely drawn) is here. Incidentally, Richard III is also the subject of an opera by Giorgio Battistelli, based on Shakespeare’s play. The opera had its world premiere in 2005 at Antwerp. I know that a couple of opera buffs read this blog; has anyone seen/heard either of the operas in question?