The Wife with Two Husbands

Opera on Location is on its travels again, literally, because instead of settling in one venue for a run of performances the company will be giving single ones at five between the 21st and 28th of November.

It could be called a tour, or a pub-crawl as the destinations include the Rising Sun on Fulwood Road, Shakespeare’s on Gibraltar Street, Sentinel Brewhouse on Shoreham Street (on twice here) and the Red Deer on Pitt Street.

The fifth location is the Blue Moon Café, adjacent to the main entrance to Sheffield Cathedral, and ‘doing the rounds’ is Donizetti’s one-act comic opera Rita.

Lasting just short of a hour, there are three characters: Rita, a tyrannical inn landlady who makes the life of her timid husband Beppe a misery, and Gaspar, Rita’s first husband and wife-beater who everyone thought had drowned at sea.

He, on the other hand, had heard that Rita had perished in a house fire and turns up to ask for the death certificate as he intends to remarry. To the horror of both they naturally recognise each other while an overjoyed Beppe sees freedom on the horizon – but…!

In style, an opéra-comique with eight engaging musical numbers linked by spoken dialogue, Donizetti penned it in Paris in 1841 intending it for the Opéra-Comique in the French capital.

However, it was rejected so he had the libretto translated into Italian for a promised performance in Naples. That fell through as well and the unperformed score was found among the composer’s effects after his death in 1848.

Twelve years later the Opéra-Comique premiered the work as Rita, ou Le mari battu – Rita, or The Beaten Husband, but outings after were sporadic for 100 years until 1955 when it caught on after a production in Rome.

Since then the opera has never looked back since with performances here, there and everywhere both in its original French and Italian translation.

Opera on Location’s performance, in collaboration with the Year of Making and Abbeydale Brewery, is the English with Andrea Tweedale: Rita, Gareth Lloyd: Beppe, and Matthew Palmer: Gaspar, and you see and hear it for nothing.

Tickets are free but you are asked to reserve your place, via Eventbrite. Dates and times can be found on the Classical Sheffield Calendar at www.classicalsheffield.org.uk

The ticket link is: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/opera-on-location-9844280950

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