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Melodrama in 2 acts
Libretto by Felice Romani based on Antoine Vincent Arnault
First performed December 26 1819, Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Never performed in Frankfurt before
Sung in Italian with German & English surtitles
Introduction (on video, in German) will appear here and on YouTube not long before opening night
A city, striving for world domination, uncovers spying embassadors' conspiracies, thrashes its enemies and isolates itself. This megalomaniacal miniature state suppresses all forms of individuality, emotions and love behind its high walls. A family drama plays out in this oppressive atmosphere: Bianca e Falliero, Rossini's last opera for La Scala Milan is one of his most charming but - unfairly – least often performed works. His librettist Felice Romani combined a story about espionage with a variation on Romeo and Juliet, in which the families' quarrel is over inheritance. Bianca, senator Contareno's daughter, secretly loves General Falliero, but their love is threatened by her father's political and financial interests. Falliero, the victorious defender of the state, returns from war just as an arranged marriage between Bianca and Capellio is about to take place. Conflicts are pre-destined, Bianca's real test between love for her father and the devotion she promised her lover gave Rossini the opportunity to expand his means of expression. Virtuoso coloratura has nothing to do with bel canto acrobatics in this opera. The ornamentation in the large-scale scenes serves as a way of depicting a four-way conflict. The opera failed to establish itself during the composer's lifetime, not least because of the demands Rossini's daring writing made on the singers. The work was rediscovered in 1986 in Pesaro, where Rossini was born, and its extraordinary qualities revealed at last.