Il turco in Italia - Further information
World première on August 14, 1814 in Teatro alla Scala, Milan
The strange and the exotic always seem initially to be particularly attractive to many people. Yet when cultures clash, dealings between people are not always free of friction and occasionally even great misunderstandings. Such situations are very welcome territory for opera composers; Gioachino Rossini, for example, first had an Italian woman stranded in Algiers in 1813 and a year later sent a Turkish man on a study tour to Italy, where he first had to learn that, unlike the custom in his own country, one could not simply buy a woman from her husband. Perhaps it is the way this opera winks at the symptoms of a multi-culti society that has caused ever many more opera houses to include “Il turco in Italia” in their repertoires in recent years.
For the story of this opera, the librettist Felice Romani used a text by Mazzolà which had already been set to music in 1788. The protagonist is the Turkish prince Selim, who wants to make a study of European customs. Prosdocimo, a poet, senses subject matter for his newcomedy as he has only shortly before got to know Zaida, the mistress Selim has cast aside, in a gipsy camp. In addition to this, Fiorilla, a capricious woman, is attracted to the rich prince, a fact which neither her husband, Don Geronio, nor her lover, Don Narciso, find particularly amusing. Zaida is also not exactly enthusiastic about her Italian rival. Can the poet solve these conflicts and unite the right couples? And which are the right couples?
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