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Francesca di Foix

Francesca di Foix

Gaetano Donizetti

1 disc set

CD £14.99

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PDF booklet included free (full album only)

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No one has ever seen Francesca, Countess of Foix (Annick Massis) because her jealous husband, The Count (Alfonso Antoniozzi), keeps her locked in a tower. You can’t really blame him. His employer,... read more

Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Francesca di Foix: scena I: Senti senti ? Gia l'eco ripete 02:42
playstop02 Francesca di Foix: scena II: Duetto: Quest'e il loco stabilito 05:16
playstop03 Francesca di Foix: scena II: Scena: Ecco il Conte ? - scena III: Che vita, della caccia 02:47
playstop04 Francesca di Foix: scena IV: Cavatina: Grato accolse i vostri accenti 02:29
playstop05 Francesca di Foix: scena IV: Cabaletta: Oh quale apporta all'anima 03:26
playstop06 Francesca di Foix: scena IV: Recitative: Duca, e cosi? ? 02:16
playstop07 Francesca di Foix: scena IV: Recitative: Voi non seguite il Re? 01:33
playstop08 Francesca di Foix: scena V: Aria: Ah! ti ottenni alfin 02:19
playstop09 Francesca di Foix: scena V: Cabaletta: Donzelle, se vi stimola 03:30
playstop10 Francesca di Foix: scena V: Recitative: Quest'e l'anello ? - scena VI: Venite ? E' dessa? 01:52
playstop11 Francesca di Foix: scena VI: Duetto: Signore, a dirvi il vero 03:52
playstop12 Francesca di Foix: scena VI: Duetto: Che siete una sciocca 02:15
playstop13 Francesca di Foix: scena VI: Duetto: Quante son delle civette 03:16
playstop14 Francesca di Foix: scena VII: Recitative: Oh! Duca, mi rallegro! ? 01:48
playstop15 Francesca di Foix: scena VIII: Canzonetta del Paggio: Vieni, e narra o bel paggetto 01:58
playstop16 Francesca di Foix: scena VIII: Canzonetta del Paggio: E' una giovane straniera ? 01:00
playstop17 Francesca di Foix: scena VIII: Canzonetta del Paggio: Che dan vita ad ogni festa 01:48
playstop18 Francesca di Foix: scena IX: Recitative: Edmondo? - scena X: Ecco il geloso! - scena XI: La Baronessa arriva 03:49
playstop19 Francesca di Foix: scena XII: Terzetto: Vi presento, o Baronessa 04:03
playstop20 Francesca di Foix: scena XII: Terzetto: Questo acciar che il Sovrano vi affida 03:59
playstop21 Francesca di Foix: scena XIII: Recitative: Ve' come il Conte segue al gran Torneo 00:52
playstop22 Francesca di Foix: scena XIII: Romanza: Donne, che ognor piu bella 04:23
playstop23 Francesca di Foix: scena XIV: Marcia: La vaga straniera 02:40
playstop24 Francesca di Foix: scena XV: Finale: Scena: Ma via rasserenatevi - scena XVI: La Giostra, o Baronessa - Last scena: Miratelo ?02:23
playstop25 Francesca di Foix: Last scena: Marcia: La vaga straniera 00:53
playstop26 Francesca di Foix: Last scena: Recitative: Or sia l'opra appien compita 00:48
playstop27 Francesca di Foix: Last scena: Cantabile: Fausto sempre splenda il Sole 04:08
playstop28 Francesca di Foix: Last scena: Rondo: Per voi di gelosia 04:22

No one has ever seen Francesca, Countess of Foix (Annick Massis) because her jealous husband, The Count (Alfonso Antoniozzi), keeps her locked in a tower. You can’t really blame him. His employer, the King (Pietro Spagnoli), has a famous eye for the girls. But, surely this can’t be a problem because she is so ugly. We know this because the Count tells everyone. The King is suspicious and the Page (Jennifer Larmore) and the Duke (Bruce Ford) are curious. Just how hideous can she be?A one-act opera in 1831 had little chance of survival following its initial performances. With the public’s insatiable appetite for new works, Francesca di Foix was a Donizetti heroine destined to remain on the shelf – that is, until Opera Rara came to her rescue. Now, in this witty and captivating first ever recording, the beauties of Donizetti’s charming score can once again be enjoyed today.

Booklet includes complete libretto with English translation.

'Francesca di Foix is no inconsequential work; rather it is a gem in miniature, featuring all of the stylistic elements of primo Ottocento opera in one single act. Kudos to Opera Rara for (re)introducing it to the world' - Denise Gallo, Opera Today

'Once again the forces at Opera Rara have unearthed a little jewel of a piece, cast it attentively and produced it beautifully' - Ira Siff, Opera News

Pietro Spagnoli (Il Re), Bruce Ford (Il Duca), Alfonso Antoniozzi (Il Conte), Annick Massis (La Contessa), Jennifer Larmore (Il Paggio), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Antonello Allemandi – conductor

Scene 1.  In a spot set aside for hunting, close to the Palace of the Louvre, peasants are gathered to greet their King.  The Duke and the Page, Edmondo, also appear, for it is here that they hope to meet Francesca, the Countess of Foix, Edmondo’s cousin.  The Count, her husband, has proved so jealous and possessive that he has been holding her a virtual prisoner, shut away from the world, but the King, the Duke and Edmondo have concocted a plot to release her.  They have managed to duplicate the Count’s ring, briefly removed from his hand while he was asleep, and have sent her the duplicate in her husband’s name, instructing her to come to court.  Edmondo insists that she is model of beauty and winning ways, even though the Count, to avoid having to present her at court, has given out that she is ill-favoured, misshapen and coarse, ‘uglier than any harpy’. 

The Count, recently appointed Master of the King’s Hunt, rejoices in his demanding duties, but laments that they necessitate his leaving his wife at home on her own – a cause for concern in a world where he believes the worst of all his fellow-men.

The King acknowledges the acclamations of his subjects and flatters the Count, assuring him that a propitious day is dawning for him.  He then dismisses the peasants and himself returns to the Palace, but not before whispering to the Duke that, the moment Francesca appears, he should conduct her to court and place her in the care of his sister.  The Count departs to attend to his duties, and the Duke and Edmondo mount a nearby hill to see if there is any sign of Francesca’s approach.

Francesca has, in fact, arrived by a different route.  She makes her entry, rejoicing in her new-found liberty but mystified that her jealous husband should so unexpectedly have changed his mind and summoned her to join him.  The Duke and Edmondo, returning, greet her.  Edmondo goes to inform the King of her arrival, and the Duke admits that it was the Page and the King who sent her the ring, not her husband.  He is unable to explain further, since it is the King who has masterminded the plot and who alone knows its details.  Francesca is in two minds whether to stay or whether to return to her prison, but when she hears that her husband has reported her ‘a silly goose, a yokel, and mannerless… foul and lame’, she is quite sufficiently piqued to be eager for revenge. 

Before they can proceed to court the Count returns.  Francesca hastily covers her face with a veil and is presented to him as the Baroness of Linsberg, the Duke’s widowed cousin who has arrived from England.  Although her stature and voice arouse the Count’s suspicions, he can only hope that he will have an opportunity of ascertaining her true identity at court, whither they all depart.

Scene 2.  In the royal apartments in the Louvre, the courtiers try to sift the Page for information concerning the mysterious new arrival, but Edmondo parries their enquiries, declaring only that it is the King’s intention to amuse himself.  He is also tackled by the Count, frustrated since he has had no chance of seeing the lady’s face, even though he grows ever more suspicious that she is really his wife.

The King instructs Edmondo to inform the lady that he wishes to make her acquaintance and conduct her to a tournament which is about to take place.  She appears, with both the King and the Count vying with each other – for different reasons – to behold her.  It is a moment of supreme – and supremely comic – climax.  The King takes delight in presenting Francesca, with exaggerated courtesy, to the Count.  She plays up to the situation, commiserating with the Count that his wife should be ‘oppressed in years… a compendium of all ills’, and graciously enquiring after her health.  The Count himself writhes in agony, recognising her yet unable, after all he has said, to claim her as his wife.

A trumpet call announces the Tournament.  The King asks the Countess to accept the task of presenting his sword to the victor.  She, in turn, seeks to mollify her husband – or perhaps to goad him still further – by exhorting him to contest the prize and prove himself first in the field.  And he can only regret that advancing age precludes the possibility of his fulfilling her wishes.  All depart except for the Duke, who lingers a moment to admit that he would probably be just as jealous as the Count, were he himself blessed with such a wife.

Scene 3.  The tournament ground outside the Louvre, where the jousting has just concluded.  While all comment on Francesca’s charm and beauty, Edmondo continues to taunt the Count who, tortured and miserable since he no longer has any doubts regarding her identity, wonders whether he will ever succeed in recovering her. 

Francesca asks the identity of the unknown knight who has won the tournament, and it is revealed that it is none other than the King himself.  She girds him with the victor’s sword, and he, in turn, expresses a wish to see her joined in marriage with someone who has long admired her: the Duke.  She consents, but only upon condition that he will not prove as jealous as her previous husband, whom she describes as deceased.  As the King gives them his blessing and is about to unite them, it all becomes too much for the Count, who protests that the lady is his wife.  He is obliged to eat humble pie, and confess that all he has said about her was a lie. 

The Page explains the mystery of the duplicated ring, and the opera ends upon a note of celebration as all hope that the Count has learned his lesson and will, in future, show the fair sex greater respect and prove less jealous and severe.


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