BOLSHOI DEBUT

Il viaggio a Reims – G. Rossini

JUNE 30 – JULY 2nd 4th

A group of European aristocrats planning to attend Charles X’s coronation in Reims, await their departure at the Giglio d’oro (Golden Lilium).

Madama Cortese, the director of the Giglio d’oro, anxious that her guests have a good time, instructs her crew (including Maddalena, Antonio and Prudenzio, a buffoonish doctor) to treat them with great consideration.

The first guest to appear is a fashion-crazed Parisian, Contessa di Folleville, followed by her migraine-ridden maid Modestina and, shortly after, by her cousin Luigino, who arrives with bad news: her luggage has been irreparably lost in an accident. At the prospect of having nothing to wear to the coronation, Folleville first faints, then recovers her senses and bitterly laments her loss. But Modestina, much to the amusement of the onlookers, cheers her up again by miraculously producing a hat which survived the mishap.

The German music lover Barone di Trombonok, who has witnessed the incident, is soon joined by Don Profondo, a fanatical antiquarian and by Don Alvaro, a Spaniard, and his travel companion, the Polish Marchese Melibea. Closely following them in blind jealousy of Melibea is the Russian Count Libenskof. When Madama Cortese enters to explain why their departure has been delayed, the two rivals are about to fight. Disaster is avoided only by the intervention of the famous Italian singer Corinna who is heard singing outside: her ode to peace and fraternal love momentarily leads everyone to reconcile.

Another guest makes his appearance: it is Lord Sidney who tormented by his undeclared love for Corinna. He soon abandons himself to dreams of eternal love. Corinna enters with her orphan protégé Delia; they are greeted by Don Profondo.

Left alone, Corinna must suffer the impertinent advances of the Cavaliere Belfiore, a French womanizer and Folleville’s lover. She rejects him in disdain. Don Profondo re-enters in order to make a list of all the travellers’ possessions. He eventually rejoices at the prospect of the pending departure.

The guests progressively gather, expecting to leave, when Zefirino, an employee of the Giglio d’oro, informs them that their trip has to be cancelled: there is a technical problem and absolutely no means of transportation could be found to take them to Reims. The company reels with horror. But Madama Cortese appears with a letter from her husband in Paris, announcing that sumptuous festivities will be held there after the king returns from the coronation. Folleville invites them all to Paris, offering to accommodate them for the occasion, and all rejoice in this unexpected twist of fate.

All agree to have a banquet at the Giglio d’oro while they are waiting. At Trombonok’s urge, the only remaining issue – the lovers’ quarrel between Libenskof and Melibea – is resolved. Libenskof begs for her forgiveness, she yields to his tenderness, and they make peace in an ardent duet. After dinner, the Baron proposes a round of musical toasts. After delivering songs in their respective national styles, the guests all ask Corinna to sing, each suggesting a theme on which she should improvise. Unsurprisingly, the one that is chosen is “Charles X, King of France”. Corinna starts singing, joined by everyone in a solemn finale.

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