Tri-Cities Opera’s second mainstage production of the 2014-2015 season is Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers. This charming comedy features a vibrant young cast, lively music conducted by William Hobbs, and creative direction by innovative opera director, Dorothy Danner.
“Never underestimate an Italian woman!”
Author: Giaochino Rossini
Time: The Past
In the palace of Mustafa, Bey of Algiers, Elvira mourns her fate while Zulma and other women comfort her. Mustafa wants to be free and has decided to marry Elvira off to his Italian slave, Lindoro. He orders his henchman, Ali, to find him an Italian wife. Meanwhile, an Italian ship has been shipwrecked on the coast and Ali congratulates himself on finding a beautiful girl, Isabella, suitable for the bey. In fact, she is looking for Lindoro, whom she loves, while traveling with Taddeo, who she pretends is her uncle. Back at the palace, Mustafa is immediately impressed with Isabella, while she and Lindoro recognize each other instantly. Upon hearing of Mustafa’s plans, Isabella arranges matters to her liking: she insists that Mustafa keep Elvira as his wife and takes Lindoro as her personal slave.
Ali, Elvira, Zulma are astonished to see the once fierce Mustafa become so docile. Isabella and Lindoro confirm their love for each other and plan an escape. Taddeo, dressed in turban and full regalia, is appointed Mustafa’s Grand Kaimakan of Algeria in honor of his “niece”. Isabella is in her apartment, dressing in the Turkish style and invites Elvira in. When Mustafa, anxious to be alone with Isabella, arrives at her apartment for coffee, he tells Taddeo that he will sneeze as a signal for his Kaimakan to get everyone else to leave. Isabella, however intends to avoid being alone with him, and despite all his sneezing, everybody stays. Mustafa is overjoyed when Lindoro explains to him that the only reason Isabella delays in marrying him is that he does not belong to the noble order of “Pappataci” (those who shall eat and be silent). Dressed in Italian cloths, Mustafa is prepared for the ceremony by all the Italians in his household – Isabella has prepared escape for them all in return for their help. The guards are given too much to drink and the ceremony begins. Lindoro and Isabella pretend that the arrival of the ship is part of the ritual. It is only when all the Italians are on board and it is safely underway that Mustafa realizes he has been tricked. Reflecting that Italian girls are too much for him, and that he is better off with Elvira, Mustafa bids Isabella and Lindoro farewell.
Mary Beth Nelson
Rexford J. Tester