Studio Amati Bacciardi
An unstable Sigismondo (Daniela Barcellona) cowers by his bed, tormented by memories of the wife he sentenced to death. In this production, Act One is set in a mental institution.
An unstable Sigismondo (Daniela Barcellona) cowers by his bed, tormented by memories of the wife he sentenced to death. In this production, Act One is set in a mental institution. Studio Amati Bacciardi
Daniela Barcellona ……….. Sigismondo
Olga Peretyatko ………………. Aldimira
Antonio Siragusa …………….. Ladislao
Manuela Bisceglie ………….. Analdilda
Andrea Concetti ……………... Zenovito
Enea Scala …………………… Radotski
Bologna Municipal Theater Orchestra and Chorus
Michele Mariotti, conductor
As even the most die-hard opera fans know, operatic stories — even the best of them — can be a tricky business.
There are many opera plots that at first glance seem horribly confusing, even implausible. But when they're examined more closely, and their intricate details become clearer, their stories come into focus. The same might be said of certain plays by Shakespeare, or classic Greek dramas. They require a bit of study.
Then there are stories like Rossini's Sigismondo, in which every detail that's revealed seems to make the whole thing even more preposterous — to the point where it's easy to give up on the opera altogether. But, when it's kept simple, even this opera's confounding plot clears up a little bit. So here it is in a nutshell.
The title character is the king of Poland, who had been happily married to the beautiful Aldimira. But Sigismondo found himself in a predicament similar to the character Othello, in Shakespeare's tragedy and Verdi's famous opera: His wife was falsely accused of infidelity by one of Sigismondo's own lieutenants, a fellow named Ladislao. Sigismondo believed the accusations, and ordered Aldimira to be hauled off into the forest and executed.
But as ACT ONE begins, Sigismondo is having second thoughts, and his colleagues are afraid he's going around the bend. He's afraid Aldimira might have been innocent and it's starting to drive him crazy, as he truly loved her.
The situation has also put Sigismondo's kingdom in danger. Aldimira was the daughter of Ulderico, the king of Bohemia. Word has come that Ulderico wants revenge for his daughter's death. So he's about to invade Poland, and Sigismondo's armies are ill-prepared for war.
But it turns out that Aldimira isn't dead after all. A nobleman named Zenovito saved her, and hid her in a modest house in the woods, near the Bohemian border. When Sigismondo and his patrolling soldiers stumble on the cottage, Aldimira fears that if the king recognizes her, he'll be angry and kill her for sure this time.
So Zenovito and Aldimira pretend that she's actually Zenovito's sister, calling her Egelinda, and they hatch a wild plan. They propose that Sigismondo take this "Egelinda" back to his castle, and pass her off as Aldimira. Ulderico will thus think his daughter is safe, and call off his invasion. And Sigismondo, not knowing that he has actually found his wife alive, won't order her execution all over again. Sigismondo agrees, and as first act ends, Aldimira is headed to the palace, while the villain Ladislao is worried that his false accusations will be revealed and Sigismondo goes off to confront the Bohemian invaders.
Studio Amati Bacciardi
Ladislao (Antonio Siragusa) maintains the upper hand until the end of the opera, when his minion Radotski (Enea Scala) betrays him.
Ladislao (Antonio Siragusa) maintains the upper hand until the end of the opera, when his minion Radotski (Enea Scala) betrays him. Studio Amati Bacciardi
In ACT TWO Aldimira makes her grand appearance at Sigismondo's court, but things don't go quite as planned. The people do accept Aldimira as herself, the queen, somehow returned from the dead. And Sigismondo still believes that she's actually someone else.
But Ladislao stays true to his villainous form. He goes to Ulderico and tells him that the woman who looks so much like his daughter is really a fake. Ulderico believes him and begins his attack on Sigismondo's armies, quickly gaining the upper hand.
Still, all is not lost. By this time, Ladislao's henchman Radotski is fed up with his treacherous boss. All the while, he has held a letter suggesting that Ladislao's accusations of Aldimira were phony — and proving that Aldimira really is, well, Aldimira. Faced with that evidence, Ladislao confesses and is promptly arrested. Ulderico realizes that his daughter is still alive, and again becomes an ally to Poland. And Sigismondo, who loved Aldimira all along, gladly takes her back as the opera ends.