Major Operas | Il matrimonio segreto by Domenico Cimarosa | Classical Era

The Secret Marriage

Composed: 1792
Premiered: 1792, Vienna
Libretto by Giovanni Bertati, after George Colman and David Garrick

Act I

Carolina, Geronimo’s daughter, is secretly married to Paolino, her father’s clerk. The couple are trying to find a way to tell Geronimo of their marriage; he would not approve of such a lowly match. Paolino comes up with a plan. In order to win Geronimo’s favour, while also addressing his social aspirations, Paolino will arrange a marriage between nobleman Count Robinson and Carolina’s elder sister Elisetta. Paolino tells Geronimo of his idea; Geronimo is overjoyed at the prospect of the wedding. When the Count arrives, he first assumes Carolina is to be his wife, and then turns his attentions to Fidalma, the sister’s widowed aunt. He is unimpressed with Elisetta and asks Carolina to marry him instead; Elisetta is enraged. The act ends in confusion, as the deaf Geronimo struggles to make sense of the situation.

Act II

The Count explains to Geronimo that he wishes to marry Carolina instead of Elisetta. Geronimo hesitates, but the Count offers to take a smaller dowry; this appeals to Geronimo’s greed and he consents. Paolino hears about the change of plan. He goes to Fidalma, hoping to confide in her, but she reveals that she is in love with him. Carolina then happens upon the pair and assumes the worst; a heated discussion ensues. Paolino suggests to Carolina that they run away together. Elisetta and Fidalma are furious with Carolina for ruining their hopes of love. They ask Geronimo to send Carolina to a convent; he agrees. Carolina laments her fate and the Count, unaware of her true dilemma, comforts her.

As Carolina and Paolino prepare to escape, Elisetta intervenes and they withdraw into Carolina’s room. Elisetta is convinced that the man Carolina is with is the Count. She brings everyone to the door of the room; the couple are forced to show themselves and reveal that they are married. All ends happily as the Count agrees to marry Elisetta, and Geronimo, pleased that everything has turned out well, forgives Carolina and Paolino.

Personalities | Domenico Cimarosa | Classical Era | Opera


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