It is the day that has been set aside to celebrate the wedding of the middle-aged Caliph to young Adina; everyone is rejoicing about the event. At the same time a young Arab named Selimo who is in love with Adina and knows nothing about the wedding has learned that the girl is a prisoner in the Caliph’s harem. The two young people, who have been in love since their adolescent years, were actually on the point of getting married when they were tragically separated. Soon Selimo will learn that Adina is now to marry the Caliph and from there the story unfolds with themes of love, betrayal and jealousy.
Few of Gioachino Rossini’s (1792-1868) operas are less well known than Adina. Intriguingly, it’s not an early work but one composed in the aftermath of Rossini’s great creative flourish of 1816–17, which produced masterpieces including Il barbiere di Siviglia and La Cenerentola, so the composer certainly knew what he was doing when he produced Adina with glittering arias and rich orchestral textures.
Starring Jette Parker Young Artist Rachel Kelly as Adina and 2017 Operalia winner Levy Sekgapane.
Adina (a co-production with the Rossini Opera Festival) will be prefaced at Wexford with the world premiere of La cucina (The Kitchen), with a libretto by the director – and Wexford’s Artistic Director-designate – Rosetta Cucchi and music by Andrew Synnott. The Dublin-based composer is no stranger to the operatic stage: his first opera, Breakdown, was followed by a pair of short operas –Counterparts and The Boarding House, based on James Joyce’s Dubliners and premiered two years ago at Wexford.
La cucina is the story of a chef's assistant, Bianca and the baking of a wedding cake for Adina's wedding. The music channels the comic spirit of Rossini as it follows the ups and downs of our heroine. It is joyous and passionate in equal measure and full to the brim with ravashing orchestral colour.
Sung in Italian with English surtitles.
"Behind a Georgian terrace in a small fishing town in Ireland something extraordinary happens every October."
Among the many mysteries surrounding Adina are why it was commissioned in 1818 for a Portuguese patron yet not performed until 1826 at Lisbon’s Teatro São Carlos. Rossini never heard the work himself, and after a performance in 1828 in Rio de Janeiro, it disappeared from view until the 1960s. It was revived in Siena in 1963, and in Oxford in 1968. Rossini’s writing for the title role – and only female protagonist in the piece – is in some ways restrained, perhaps because he designed the part for a singer active in Lisbon he didn’t actually know. Though subtitled Il califfo di Bagdad, and adapted from Felice Romani’s Il califfo e la schiava, the score makes little attempt at Middle-Eastern local colour; indeed, four out of its ten numbers were culled by the composer from his own 1814 opera Sigismondo, which is set in 16th century Poland. The plot is a variation on the then-popular escape-from-the-harem theme, though the heroine on this occasion feels more than usual sympathy for her captor. All is explained – in good time, fortunately – when it transpires that the beautiful slave girl Adina is indeed the caliph’s daughter.