Gaetano Gasparri's libretto is full of two-way jokes and it was censored mostly because of the duet between Ernestina and Buralicchio of the second act. The young Ernestina pretends to be seducing Buralicchio, who is horrified because he believed her to be his fiancé and now knows she is a castrato in disguise. He even reports her with the accusation of deserting military service. This opera is full of virtuosos and romantic pieces and overwhelming for the musical creativity and the many ensemble passages, which, together with a persistent rhythm, gained Rossini the nickname Tedeschino.
Synopsis L’Equivoco Stravagante
Ermanno, a boy of humble origins, is in love with Ernestina, the daughter of Gamberotto, a farmer recently become rich. The boy doesn't know how to reach her, so he comes up with the idea of getting hired by the father to be her tutor, thanks to the help of Gamberotto's domestics, Frontino and Rosalia. Ermanno's love is opposed by the former fiancé of the girl, Buralicchio, a rich and dull man to whom Ernestina is promised. Ernestina doesn't reject the fiancé but can't deny feelings for Ermanno. When Buralicchio senses Ernestina's attention for the tutor, he complains to Gamberotto, who scolds him and forces him to ask for forgiveness to his daughter. Buralicchio tries to gain Ernestina's attentions back and when Ermanno sees them together, runs away and pretends to kill himself. Ernestina's prompt reaction infuriates her father and the fiancé, who throw Ermanno out of the house.
Frontino, with Rosalia's help, plots to help Ermanno out and convince Buralicchio not to marry the girl. They write a fake letter where they confess that Ernestina is in fact Ernesto, the castrato son of Gamberotto, who's been hidden in the house as a girl to avoid the military service. Offended, Buralicchio decides to take revenge and reports Ernestina to the military authorities, which arrive at the house to arrest the girl. Ermanno is determined to get his love out of prison and manages to sneak in and give her a uniform, which will help her run away without being noticed. When the two lovers arrive at the house, Buralicchio is about to flee. Frontino then decides to put an end to the misunderstanding and explains the events. Ermanno and Ernestina receive the blessing to get married and Buralicchio admits defeat and declares not to be interested in the girl anymore after the shame he's experienced.