Major Operas | Le Comte Ory by Gioachino Rossini | Early Romantic

Le Comte Ory (1828) was another of Rossini’s bright, brilliant operas buffa. This one, based on an old Picardy legend, premiered at the Paris Opéra on 20 August 1828. The first performance in London took place at the Haymarket on 28 February 1829, and was possibly intended as a celebration for Rossini’s thirty-seventh birthday, the best the theatre could do for a celebrity born on 29 February.

However, Le Comte Ory was not entirely an original piece of work. Rossini had already used much of the music, including the overture, in his Il viaggo a Reims (‘A Journey to Rheims’, 1825).

Composed: 1828
Premiered: 1828, Paris
Libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles Gaspard Delestre-Poirson

Act I

While the men are away on a crusade, Countess Adèle renounces love. Count Ory has disguised himself as a hermit who gives the villagers potions for matters of the heart. He hopes to court the countess. The countess’s confidante Ragonde arrives and informs the hermit that her mistress wishes to see him; he consents. The count’s tutor and his page Isolier arrive in search of the count, and also hope to find the countess, whom Isolier loves. The tutor realizes the hermit’s true identity. Isolier asks the hermit for advice and reveals his plan to gain entry to the castle by dressing up as a nun; the count resolves to use this idea himself. The countess arrives to consult the hermit, who tells her that falling in love will ease her pain. She admits that she is in love with Isolier, but the hermit advises her against the match. The tutor then reveals the count’s deception. News arrives that the men are returning. The count resolves to enter the castle.

Act II

While the women await the men’s return, a storm breaks out. Hearing cries, the women discover several nuns (in fact the count, his tutor, Raimbaud, and associates), who plead for protection. They are admitted and the count insists on embracing the countess. The ‘nuns’ celebrate. Isolier announces that the men will return that night, and reveals the true identities of the ‘nuns’. The count insists on joining the countess in her bedroom, not realizing that Isolier is also there. In the darkness, he takes Isolier’s hand. Trumpets announce the return of the crusaders and the count realizes that Isolier has tricked him. The count and his associates flee and the household rejoices in love’s victory.

Personalities | Gioachino Rossini | Early Romantic | Opera


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