Skip to main content


Theatre Royal

Opera in four acts by Umberto Giordano
Libretto by Sem Benelli

Sung in Italian


Tornaquinci: Mikhail Krutikov

Calandra: Oliver Broome

Giannetto Malespini: Fabio Armiliato

Neri Chiaramantesi: Luis Giron May

Gabriello: Philip Doghan

Ginevra: Miriam Gauci

Fazio: David Barrell

Cintia: Kathleen Tynan

Lapo: Bruno Caproni

Doctor: Giancarlo Tosi

Lisabetta: Alessandra Marc

: Brendan Cavanagh

: Patricia Wright

Laldomine: Kate McCarney

A Singer
: Philip Doghan


ComposerUmberto Giordano
ConductorAlbert Rosen
DirectorPatrick Mason
Set DesignJoe Vanek
Costume DesignJoe Vanek
Lighting DesignJohn Waterhouse
Music PreparationDavid Gowland

The Plot

Act 1
Lorenzo de' Medici has ordered Tornaquinci to host a dinner at his house to make peace between Giannetto Malespini and the Chiaramantesi brothers, Neri and Gabriello. Neri had taken Giannetto's mistress, Ginevra, for himself, and as a "joke", both he and his brother had tormented Giannetto by putting him into a sack, pricking him with their swords, and throwing him into the Arno river. Bent on vengeance, Giannetto convinces Neri, who has become drunk at Tornaquinci's dinner, to dress in his full armour and seek out a fight in an unsalubrious quarter of Florence. After rumours spread by Giannetto's servant, Neri is branded as a mad man and is locked up for the night, while Giannetto spends the night with Ginevra, who in the darkness believes him to be Neri.

Act 2

In Ginevra's house the next morning, she learns who her real lover had been the previous night. She is pleased rather than appalled, regretting only that she did not know it at the time as it would have made the tryst all the more exciting. Neri bursts in and is enraged by both Ginevra's reaction and Giannetto's perfidy. The Medici servants enter and drag Neri off again.

Act 3

Neri is tied up in the Medici cellars. Giannetto and a doctor pretend to treat him for his madness by bringing in several people whom he has wronged in the past to taunt him. Lisabetta, one of the women Neri had wronged is still in love with him and feels pity for him. When the others leave, she urges him to act truly mad, whereupon she will ask for him to be released into her custody. Giannetto returns and is horrified to see that he has actually driven Neri mad. He begs Neri's forgiveness, but Neri continues to behave like a madman and ignores him. Giannetto decides to continue with his revenge by telling Neri that he will once again sleep with Ginevra that night.

Act 4

In her house, Ginevra awaits another tryst with Giannetto. Unbeknownst to her, Giannetto has told Gabriello that Ginevra loves him and is waiting for him that night. Neri, now freed from the Medici cellars, bursts into Ginevra's bedroom and stabs both Ginevra and the man he believes to be Giannetto to death. He then encounters Giannetto waiting for him outside the room. Neri now realizes that Giannetto's last "joke" has led him to killing his own brother. He rushes back into the bedroom and emerges now genuinely insane and calling out for Lisabetta. Giannetto's revenge is now complete, but tormented by what he has done, he takes no pleasure in his victory.

Return to the Archive