“GRISELDA” AN OPERA BY ANTONIO VIVALDI

Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) did not only compose music; he also wrote some 94 operas amongst which “Griselda”. A new production of this opera by Tom Creed opens at the Town Hall Theatre in Galway on Saturday 12 October, while the Italian Institute in Dublin gave us a taste of it today with a presentation this evening by literary historian Eric Haywood (UCD) and musicologist Antonio Cascelli (Maynooth University), with cast members of the Irish National Opera performing excerpts from the opera.
Griselda is a drama in three acts as per the 1701 Italian libretto by Apostolo Zeno that was based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. The celebrated Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni was hired to adapt the libretto for Vivaldi. The opera was first performed in Venice at the Teatro San Samuele on 18 May 1735.
Griselda Synopsis
Act One
Years before the action begins, Gualtiero, King of Sicily, had married a poor shepherdess, Griselda. The marriage was deeply unpopular with the king’s subjects and when a daughter, Costanza, was born, the king had to pretend to have her killed while secretly sending her to be brought up by Prince Corrado of Apulia. Now, faced with another rebellion from the Sicilians, Gualtiero is forced to renounce Griselda and promises to take a new wife. The proposed bride is in fact Costanza, who is unaware of her true parentage. She is in love with Corrado’s younger brother, Roberto, and the thought of being forced to marry Gualtiero drives her to despair.
Act Two
Griselda returns to her home in the countryside where she is pursued by the courtier Ottone, who is in love with her. She angrily rejects his advances. Gualtiero and his followers go out hunting and come across Griselda’s cottage. Gualtiero foils an attempt by Ottone to kidnap Griselda and allows her back to the court, but only as Costanza’s slave.
Act Three
Ottone still resolutely pursues Griselda and Gualtiero promises him her hand as soon as he himself has married Costanza. Griselda declares she would rather die and, moved by her faithfulness, Gualtiero takes her back as his wife. He reveals the true identity of Costanza and allows her to marry Roberto.



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