Thieving Magpie at Läckö Castle – synopsis
Composer and librettist
Music: Gioacchino Rossini. Lyrics: Giovanni Gheradini.
Worldpremiere: Milano, La Scala 31 maj 1817. Swedish premiere: Royal Opera in Stockholm, 14 juni 1843.
|Conductor: Simon Phipps|Director: William Relton|Set design and costume: Marcus Olsson|Set design and lightdesign: Markus Granqvist|Maskör: Gunilla Bratt|
Role, Voicetype and Singers
|Antonio||tenor||Håkan StarkenbergHåkan Starkenberg|
|Fabrizio Vingradito||baritone||Anders Kjellstrand|
|Fernando Villabella||baritone||Daniel Franck|
|Pippo||mezzosoprano||Rita Therese Ziem|
Once upon a time, in a happy, happy world,not very far away, the Household of Fabrizio Ingradito are preparing the celebrations for Giannetto, the son of the household, and his return from the war. Pippo, the pot boy,is also very excited but gets interrupted by noisy magpie which lives nearby. Lucia,Fabrizios wife, turns up and bosses every-body around until Fabrizio arrives with the wine for the party. The two patents discuss the possibility of their sons marriage, even though the magpie seems to be squawking Ninettas name. They all leave happily to continue the preparations.
Ninetta a maid in the house, arrives having been picking strawberries, and sings of her happiness that she will see not only Giannetto, now that the war is over, but also her dear father. Fabrizio joins her. He knows that she and his son are in love and is happy that they should be together. His wife, however is not and tells Ninetta to take more care ofhe silver as a fork has recently gone missing.The pedlar Isacco turns up, trying to drum up buisness but Pippo soon gets rid of him. There is general excitement as Giannetto is seen appearing. When he does arrive he tells Ninetta how the thought of her kept him going through the battle.
Ninetta is left alone, making final preparations and is joined by her father Fernando Villabella, a soldier. He tells her his troubles. The previous evening he had begged his commanding officer for leave to come and visit her. The officer was drunk and refused and isulted him. They ended up fighting and Fernando was caught and quickly sentenced to death. With the help of a friend, Ernesto,he managed to escape and is here to ask for her help. Father and daughter are both deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible turn of events. He is just about to ask her too something for him when Ninetta spötsle Mayor approaching. Fernando conceals himself just in time.
The Mayor is very confident that he will win Ninettas affections. He tries to take advantage of the situation, imagining himself alone with her, but his advances are interrupted by Giorgio, bringing him a letter. While he tries to read it (he doesnt have his spectacles)Ninetta tells her father to leave. He gives her a fork and spoon, the last things he possesses,legs her to sell them and leave the money in the old hollow tree at the back of the house.Before he can get away the Mayor spots him and says the letter has informed him that there is a deserter in the area with the name Fernando. He cannot read the rest of the let-ter and gives it to Ninetta to read out loud.She does so, and lies by completely changing the description of the deserter, obviously her father. The Mayor tells Fernando to leave and, believing them to be alone, he tries harder with Ninetta. She completely rejects him and all three express their anger and frustration. Fernando can bear it no longer and rushes to his daughters defence. The Mayor leaves in a fury, Fernando and Ninetta are briefly united but he rushes away to hide himself, and during all this, completely unnoticed, the magpie spots a spoon on the table and steals it.
Ninetta calls Isacco and sells him the fork and spoon that her father gave her, at a rather better price for him than for her. Pippo is seen this and asks Ninetta what she w as doing only to be rebuffed. Lucia and Fabr izio arrive with Giannetto and the mother enjoys telling the Mayor about her wonderful son. Lucia counts the silver and notices a spoon is missing. She immediadetely accuses Ninetta. The Mayor, smelling the opportunity for revenge, insists that there should be an inquest. Despite protests from everyone, the Mayor relishes announcing that the punishment for such a theft is death.
The Mayor takes matters further and starts an ivestigation during which he realises that the man Ninetta was with earlier was both her father and the deserter. In her distress Ninetta drops the money she got from Isac-co. This is spotted by Lucia and duly noted, despite Pippos protestations that she got it from Isacco. Ninetta, in order to protect her father, refuses to say what she sold to Isacco,or why. The Mayor confiscates the money Pippo brings Isacco to be interviewed. He says that Ninetta sold him a fork and a spoon. Even Giannetto now thinks she is guilty. Isacco cannot produce the items as he has already sold them, but remembers that they were engraved with an F and a V. The Mayor is delighted by her apparent guilt as he now has power over her, whereas everybody else is horrified. He demands she is sent to prison immediately and, despite Gianetto and the others plea for clemency,his guards come and take her away.
Ninetta is in prison. The gaoler, Antonio, feels very sorry for her and lets her out of her cell for some fresh air. She asks him to send for Pippo. At that moment Giannetto turns up and Antonio leaves them alone. Giannetto begs her to tell him the whole truth as he cannot believe her guilty of this petty theft and suspects something else has happened.Ninetta refuses to tell even him about her father and says she is innocent and that she will soon die. They are both deeply upset by the situation and Giannetto leaves, inconsolable.
Antonio expresses his suspicions about the Mayors cruelty. The Mayor now arrives to tell Ninetta that he has forgiven her for refusing him and implies that he will get the charges against her dropped so long as she responds to his desires. She is terrified but still refuses him.Outside the prison the voices of the people can be heard announcing that the trial is about to begin. He tries once again and even in the face of death she rejects him. The Mayor is furious and while the people are calling him to the trial he declares that his love has now changed to hate. The Mayor leaves to join the trial.
Pippo arrives at the prison. Ninetta begs him to lend her some money and put it in the hollow tree behind the house. She offers her crucifix as a guarantee. Pippo begs her to keep the crucifix but Ninetta insists that he has it as a memento of her. Both of them are deeply moved as they know this may well be the last time they speak to each other. Ninetta also begs him to give her ring to Giannetto, but tells him not to tell Giannetto of how much she suffers. They can hardly bear to part, but eventually Pippo has to leave.
The moment of judgement has arrived and Ninetta is found guilty. The jury and the Magristrate extol the virtues of the blind, absolute power of the law and its power över life and death. Ninetta is brought into the courtroom and the sentence of death is passed to the horror of all present. Giannetto tries to re-open the case by stating that Ninetta has a secret which she will not tell even to him. When challenged she still refuses to explain about her father and is about to be taken off to her execution when Fernando arrives to try to save his daughter. He begs the court to take his life rather than hers, but the Mayor tells them that this is the deserter and that he should be arrested immediately. The court reject Fernandos pleading and insist their punishment is carried out. Fernando expresses his horror at seeing his daughter die. She in her turn tells him that he is prepared to die for his sake. With much recrimination on all sides father and daughter are taken away to await their fate.
Ernesto,the friend who helped Fernando escape,turns up at the village looking for him. He has come to tell him that the king has pardoned him. He asks Pippo how to find the Mayors house and gives him a coin in thanks. The magpie reappears and when Pippo is distracted by asking Fabrizio how the trial went, the magpie steals the coin, only to be hotly pursued by Zippo and Fabrizio.
The people of the village accompany Ninetta on her walk to the firing squad. She begs them to let her bear the guilt and let her father live.With courage she faces her destiny, while all the others are deeply moved.
Pippo and Fabrizio call to Giorgio that they have fund the magpies nest and in it all the silver that has recently gone missing. They shout to the procession that the execution must be dropped but no-one can hear them. In order to get more attention they start ringing a bell. Giannetto and Lucia realise the terrible mistake that has been made and call for more help. The Mayor arrives and realises that his plan for revenge has gone horribly wrong.More and more people join and try to stop the procession. Suddenly shots from the firing squad are heard ringing out …