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L’Italiana in Algeri
Teatro Regio, Wednesday 4 March 2009 - Sunday 15 March 2009
The story takes place in Algiers
Mustafà, the Bey of Algiers, wants to free himself of his wife Elvira, and decides to give her in marriage to Lindoro, his Italian slave. Lindoro, who continues to think about his fiancée Isabella, tries in vain to oppose the Bey’s wishes. A boat has been shipwrecked on the coast, and Haly, the Captain of the Corsairs, discovers that the survivors are Italian: he can finally satisfy the will of the Bey, who has been dreaming of an Italian prey. In fact, Isabella, Lindoro’s fiancée who set off in search of her beloved, and Taddeo, her travelling companion who is in love with her, are taken prisoner; they make Haly believe that they are uncle and niece. Mustafà wants Lindoro and Elvira to depart for Italy, but just as they are taking their leave of the Bey, Isabella catches sight of Lindoro. She artfully convinces the Bey that it is an uncivilised custom to repudiate one’s wife, and makes him give her Lindoro as a slave.
Lindoro explains to the jealous Isabella that he had no intention of betraying her with Elvira, but that he could not disobey Mustafà. The Bey, to ingratiate himself with Isabella, decides to give her uncle Taddeo the role of Kaimakan, a sort of deputy, and so a silly ceremony of investiture for the dejected Taddeo takes place. Elvira tells Isabella that the Bey is on his way to have coffee with her; Isabella explains that men must be “trained” and that one should not submit passively to their will. The Bey instructs the new Kaimakan: when he sneezes, Taddeo must leave the room so that he can be alone with Isabella, but at his repeated sneezing Taddeo pretends not to understand and doesn’t leave. Mustafà feels he has been made fun of, but Lindoro and Taddeo reassure him: Isabella loves him and has decided to name him “Pappataci”, a title that in Italy is given to irresistible lovers: they must only eat, drink and enjoy themselves, and not worry about what is happening around them. To test him, Isabella and Lindoro pretend to love each other and the Pappataci Mustafà doesn’t react, but continues to eat; he doesn’t even react when Isabella, Lindoro and the Italian slaves board the boat and depart. He discovers only too late that he is the victim of the practical joke contrived by the astute Isabella, and asks his wife to forgive him, promising: “no more Italian women”.