Opera in 4 acts by A. Carlos Gomes
Libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, after "La festa delle Marie", a romance by Luigi Capranica
Premiered Teatro alla Scala, Milan, February 18, 1873

Shortcuts to: Characters -- Synopsis -- Notes -- Recordings

Characters and first performers:

Fosca, Gajolo's sister............................Gabriella Kraus (sop.)
Gajolo, a Corsair of Istria.......................Ormondo Maini (bass)
Cambro, Venetian, slave of Gajolo.................Victor Maurel (bar.)
Il Doge, Doge of Venice...........................Giovanni Tanzio (bass)
Paolo, Venetian Captain...........................Carlo Bulterino (ten.)
Michele Giotta, Paolo's father....................Angelo De Giuli (bass)
Delia, young Venetian orphan and Paolo's fiancée..Cristina Lamare (sop.)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Scala of Milan Theater
Performance conducted by Maestro Franco Faccio

Couverture intérieure et première page de la nouvelle de Luigi Capranica

Gabrielle Krauss, Fosca


Setting: Istria and Venice, in 944 AD

Act I: in Istria, in the corsairs' refuge
Gajolo greets his men, who ask him when their next raid will be (Le botti del vino). He tells them that they are secretly to infiltrate a wedding ceremony at the church of San Pietro in Venice (Scendiam nella notte). At his signal the pirates will overwhelm the rich wedding guests. Under no circumstances, however, are they to disturb any of the riches of the church itself.

Cambro, a former Venetian slave now in Gajolo's service, enters with news that Michele Giotta, a nobleman whose son Paolo has been captured by Gajolo, has offered a large reward for the return of his heir. The pirates' celebration of the impending reward is interrupted by Gajolo's sister Fosca, who reminds her brother that the prisoner has been promised to her, and she will not return him for all the gold on the earth or in the sun. She loves Paolo. Let the pirates take the reward but cheat Giotta. The pirates reject this idea as dishonorable, and leave. Cambro remains, gazing at Fosca, murmuring that he is the only ally she has; that though she loathes him, he will eventually win her one way or another (D'amore le ebbrezze).

Fosca leads Paolo out from the prisoner's grotto. He asks if he is being taken to his death. No, Fosca replies, to his liberty (A te di morte nunzia). She confesses her love for him, but he spruns it; he is already betrothed to a Venetian woman whom he loves. Stung by his rejection, Fosca is about to send him back to the donjon, when Gajolo appears with Michele Giotta, who has just paid Paolo's ransom. Fosca protests, but is silenced by her brother. As Giotta's ship sails, Cambro offers Fosca friendship in her moment of need. "You will be my friend if can aid me in my vengeance," she responds. He offers to Paolo's beloved in her hands. If he can do that, she tells him she will be his bride.

Act II
Scene 1
: Delia's house in Venice.
Paolo greets his true love, Delia, with whom he will be wed in an hour (Soli, del mondo immemori). Delia, a orphan without a dowry, expresses sympathy for the misfortune of Fosca, who nursed Paolo back to health in his prison. He swear that only Delia was in his thoughts. Cambro, disguised as a peddler, enters, ostensibly seeking to sell Delia a richly adorned necklace, which she declines (lo vengo dai mondi fulgenti di Luce). While she and Paolo bid each other farewell for the hour they will be apart, Cambro muses that soon she will be in his hands.

Scene 2: a piazza in front of the Church of San Pietro I Castello. Fosca and Cambro, disguised, meet. From the church come sounds of preparation for the wedding of Paolo and Delia. Cambro promises Fosca that her revenge is at hand. Fosca begins to have second thoughts (Quale orribile peccato) because of Paolo's devotion to his beloved, but the sound of the choir in the church returns her to her fury (Dall'atre magioni). Gajolo enters, also in disguise, shocked to find Fosca here at the site of his planned raid. She vows that she means the adventure no harm (Uno stesso furore, ci guida), but when the procession to the church come past them, she throws herself in Paolo's way. Gajolo tries to pull her back, saying she is a madwoman. She agrees, but says she only lives for her vengeance (Pazza si, ma viva ancora). Gajolo succeeds in removing her, and the procession goes on. The moment has come for the pirates to attack. At Gajolo's word, sounds of fighting come from the church. Cambro and a small group of pirates drag Delia away, followed by Fosca, who cries "Finally she is in my power." The other pirates, fighting off a large group of Venetian nobles, attempt to escape from the square as the curtain falls.

Act III:The prisoner's grotto on the pirates' island.

Cambro stands guard over Delia, who bewails her fate and longs for Paolo (A qual sorte serbata son io). Fosca enters; Delia recognizes her as "la pazza," the madwoman who had interrupted the wedding procession. Fosca identifies herself as Delia's rival, and tells her that the man they both love is in her power. Delia pleads with Fosca not to kill Paolo; if someone must die, let it be her (Orfana e sola nel materno tetto). Moved by Delia's love, as deep as her own, Fosca relents, asks Delia's pardon, and offers to take on all the suffering herself alone. The two women embrace.

The remaining pirates have heard of Gajolo's failed raid from Cambro. They swear that if something is not done to rescue their chief, they will take matters into their own hands. Cambro confronts the penitent Fosca with calculated insinuations as to how Paolo and Delia, once freed, will laugh at her clemency (Tu la vedrai negli impeti). He revives her jealousy, and she vows to rescue her brother and honor her pledge to Cambro.

Act IV:The Doge's Palace in Venice.

Gajolo has been granted a meeting with the Doge. He offers Paolo's life in exchange for his own. If Fosca has already killed Paolo, he will return to Venice for his own execution. If he should break his word and not return, they warn him of the implacable vengeance of Venice (Di Venezia la vendetta).

Back on the pirates' island, Cambro tells Paolo that Delia is dead. Paolo, desolate, pleads to be united with her (Se assunta al Dio dei martiri). Fosca advances, telling him he will soon get his wish revealing Delia, who has not in fact been killed (Alfin tremanti e supplici). She tells Delia that Paolo will be spared if Delia kills herself. Delia is willing, but Paolo hotly rejects the idea. Fosca then orders the pirates to kill Paolo, but before they can act, Gajolo appears, ordering them instead to free him. He announces that he has killed Cambro, who had betrayed him in the attack on the church. Paolo and Delia are to return to Venice in exchange for his own life. Fosca broken heartedly pleads for forgiveness, offering her own great love as her defense (Non mi abborrir... compiangimi). Paolo and Delia answer that they do forgive her and will pray for her. As the lovers sail away, Fosca reveals a hidden knife and stabs herself, dying in her brother's arms. Gajolo and his corsairs vow to humble proud Venice as the curtain falls.

Notes on Fosca

After a trip to Rio for the first Brazilian performance of 11 Guarany, Gomes returned to Milan, married, and produced Fosca. (la Scala 16 February 1873). A strong cast led by Gabriella Krauss in the title role and young Victor Maurel as Cambro won a success on opening night (the rest of the cast included Carlo Bulterini as Paolo, Cristina Lamare as Delia, Ormondo Maini as Gajolo, Angelo De Giuli as Michele Giotta, and Ferdinando Zanutto as the Doge). Despite the acclaim of the Milanese, Fosca did not travel swiftly, as had Il Guarany, through the opera houses of Europe. Even South America waited four years to hear it, a visiting ItaIian troupe giving the continental and Brazilian premieres on 7 and 15 July 1877, respectively.

in 1878 Gomes decided to make major revisions in the score, replacing the original Act 1 baritone aria, "Or vieni o donna" with the more lyrical "D'amore le ebbrezze", drastically shortening the finale of Act 2 (which originally called for a long concertato fol lowing the defeat of Gajolo, in which Fosca reveals hear kidnaping of Delia to the victorious Venetians, and forces Paolo to accompany her, leaving her brother and the other pirates presumably to be executed), and rewriting large sections of the Fosca Delia duet in Act 3. Again la Scala hailed the result, with Maini recreating Gajolo, Francesco Tamagno in the role of Paolo, and the almost aptly named Amalia Fossa as Fosca (others included Adelina Garbini as Delia and Gustavo Morioni as Cambro, with Verdi's close friend Franco Faccio in the pit). But the publishing war between Lucca (Gomes' publisher) and the house of Ricordi contributed to the opera's undeserved misfortunes: somehow pro- Ricordi listeners were persuaded to hear the pernicious sounds of "Wagnerismo" in Fosca. A revival at the Teatro Dal Verme with the last great European champion of the composer, soprano Hariclea Darclee in 1890, ended its non-South American career.



Recorded in Teátro Municipal de São Paulo, September 14, 1966

Fosca....................................Ida Miccolis
Gajolo...................................Mario Rinaudo
Cambro...................................Costanzo Mascitti
Il Doge..................................José Perrota
Paolo....................................Sergio Albertini
Michele Giotta...........................Romeo Carillo
Delia....................................Agnes Ayres
Orchestra & Chorus, Teatro Municipal, São Paulo, Brazil
Performance conducted by Maestro Armando Belardi

A. Carlos Gomes
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