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La Cambiale di Matrimonio

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Title: La Cambiale di Matrimonio  
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Subject: 1810 in music, Nayer Nagui
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La Cambiale di Matrimonio

La cambiale di matrimonio (The Bill of Marriage or The Marriage Contract) is a one-act operatic farsa comica by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Gaetano Rossi. The libretto was based on the play by Camillo Federici (1791) and a previous libretto by Giuseppe Checcherini for Carlo Coccia's 1807 opera, Il matrimonio per lettera di cambio. The opera debuted on 3 November 1810 at the Teatro San Moisè in Venice[1]

Composed in a few days when he was 18 years old, La cambiale di matrimonio was Rossini's first professional opera. The overture, written when he was a student at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna, is an important part of the modern concert repertoire.[1] As was to become typical of his later career, the duet "Dunque io son" was later reused, to greater effect, in act 1 of The Barber of Seville.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 3 November 1810[3]
(Conductor: )
Tobias Mill, an English merchant baritone Luigi Raffanelli
Fanny, his daughter soprano Rosa Morandi
Edward Milfort, Fanny's lover tenor Tommaso Ricci
Slook, a Canadian merchant baritone Nicola De Grecis
Norton, Mills' clerk bass Domenico Remolini
Clarina, Fanny's chambermaid mezzo-soprano Clementina Lanari


Place: London, the chambers of Tobia Mill
18th Century

The opera opens on the servants Norton and Clarina discussing a letter which has arrived for their master, Tobias Mill, regarding an impending marriage contract from a Canadian businessman, Slook, who is due to arrive later that day. Mill enters, flustered from calculating the distance from the Americas to Europe, and orders the household to prepare for Slook's arrival, including the readying of his daughter, Fanny, whom he intends to marry off to the foreigner. Fanny arrives after everyone leaves with her lover, Eduardo Milfort; their love has been kept a secret from Mill due to Eduardo's poor financial status. Norton arrives to inform the lovers of the impending marriage contract but their conversation is interrupted by Mill's entrance as the carriage arrives bearing the Canadian.

Slook enters harassed by the servants who are trying to take his coat - he is clearly unaccustomed to European greetings. Mill encourages Slook to talk to Fanny and to get to know her - she remains quite hostile, trying to express her disinterest in marrying him with many "but's" but is soon joined by Eduardo and they both threaten to cut out Slook's eyes and puncture his veins. Slook departs to the safety of his room, Fanny and Eduardo to other quarters, as Clarina and Norton return. Clarina expresses her experiences with love in a short aria before Slook comes back and Norton informs him that the goods he is interested in acquiring are already mortgaged.

Slook, infuriated by this contractual double-crossing, refuses to buy Fanny and tells Mill this, but refuses to give a reason fearing retribution from the lovers. Mill then threatens Slook to a duel for refusing to carry through with the contract he has incurred - Slook prepares to leave having encountered three people who wish him dead within hours of his arrival in London. When he returns from packing his things, he sees Fanny and Eduardo embracing and catches them red-handed. They inform him of Mill's business-managerial sentiments toward marriage and of Eduardo's poor financial status; Slook responds by promising to make Eduardo his heir so that Fanny may be his.

Mill returns and prepares for his duel - though he fears that if he dies, it may reflect poorly upon his reputation in the market. Slook reveals himself and clandestinely replaces a peace pipe for a pistol which Mill grabs not realizing what it is. As they head to the field of battle (Slook armed with a pistol, Mill with a pipe), the ensemble rushes on and tries to convince Mill to give up the financial pretence. Finally Slook convinces Mill to let them marry and the opera concludes happily.[4]


Year Cast:
Sir Tobia Mill, Fanni, Edoardo, Slook
Opera House and Orchestra
Label [5]
1959 Rolando Panerai,
Renata Scotto,
Nicola Monti,
Renato Capecchi
Renato Fasano,
I Virtuosi di Roma
(Recorded by Mercury in the late summer of 1959 at the Teatro Grande, Brescia)
Audio CD: Italian Opera Rarities
Cat: LO 7738
1990 Bruno Pratico,
Alessandra Rossi,
Maurizio Comencini,
Bruno de Simone
Marcello Viotti,
English Chamber Orchestra
Audio CD: Claves Records, Switzerland
2006 Paolo Bordogna,
Desirée Rancatore,
Saimir Pirgu,
Fabio (Maria) Capitanucci
Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli,
Orchestra Haydn di Bolzano e Trento
(Audio and video recordings made at performances at the Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro, August).
Audio CD: Dynamic
Cat: CDS 529;
DVD: Naxos
Cat: 2110228

See also


  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Osborne, Richard: "La Cambiale di matrimonio", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Retrieved on March 21, 2008),
  • Osborne, Charles, The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1994 ISBN 0-931340-71-3
  • Oxford University Press, 1996 Oxford Reference Online (Retrieved on March 21, 2008),

External links

  • Libretto, Deutsche Rossini Gesellschaft. Accessed 23 March 2008.

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