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La Gioconda

La Gioconda

La Gioconda, opera written by the Italian composer Amilcare Ponchielli is a difficult opera to put on stage today, being one of large scenographic needs. Also, it seems hard to be able to gather six amazing voices who can express well the vocal demands of the main characters. We can't forget that at the Arena di Verona, in 1947, the opera debuted with the great Maria Callas, who was barely twenty-four at the time, interpreting Gioconda and starting there her extraordinary international career. In the animation film Fantasia, 1940, it is famous the scene of the lovely hippos dancing in tutus on the notes of the popular Dance of the Hours.

Synopsis La Gioconda

Barnaba is a spy for the Inquisition. He is watching a crowd of Venetians gathered in the Doge’s courtyard for a regatta on the Grand Canal, while contemplating his passion for the beautiful street singer Gioconda. Barnaba tries to seduce Gioconda, who's there with her blind mother, La Cieca, but she rejects him and runs away. Barnaba tries to convince the people around that the old lady is a witch, responsible for the failure of the race. The crowds threatens the old woman as Gioconda returns with Enzo Grimaldo, a sea captain she is in love with. Alvise Badoero, the head of the Inquisition, passes with his wife Laura on their way from a masked ball. They save La Cieca, who offers her rosary in gratitude. Barnaba recognizes Enzo as a banished nobleman once in love with Laura. Plotting to prove Enzo's unfaithfulness to Gioconda, Barnaba tells him he can arrange for Laura to visit him on his ship that very evening and Enzo runs to his ship to wait for her. Barnaba writes a note telling Alvise of Laura’s impending date. Gioconda overhears the plot and is hurt by Enzo’s betrayal.

Famous Arias

Voce di donna o d'angelo, Blind's Romance

O monumento, Barnaba's Monologue

Enzo is waiting for Laura and when she arrives, they embrace. Barnaba, disguised as a fisherman is spying on them. Gioconda arrives and the two women face each other. Gioconda wants to kill Laura but she recognizes her mother’s rosary in Laura’s hand. Realizing she was the one who saved her mother, she warns Laura that Alvise is after her and rushes her off. Gioconda tries to convince Enzo to get back with her, while cannons are fired from Alvise’s ship. Enzo affirms his love for Laura, sets fire to his own ship, and jumps into the lagoon.

Famous Arias

Cielo e mar, Enzo's Romance

E un anatema!... L'amo come il fulgor creato, Duet between Gioconda and Laura

In the Ca’ d’Oro palace, Alvise swears his wife will die. Laura arrives and he orders her to drink a vial of poison. As soon as he leaves the room, Gioconda gets in and exchanges a sleeping potion for the poison. Alvise presents a ballet for his guests' entertainment. Gioconda offers herself to Barnaba in exchange of Enzo's life, who has revealed his identity believing Laura dead. Barnaba agrees but takes La Cieca as hostage. Alvise reveals Laura’s lifeless body to his guests.

Famous Arias

Si! Morir ella de!, Alvise's Aria

Danza delle ore

Gioconda’s friends carry the body of Laura into Gioconda’s home. Enzo bursts in accusing Gioconda of stealing Laura’s dead body. He is about to kill Gioconda when he hears Laura's voice. Moved by Gioconda’s self-sacrifice, Enzo and Laura thank her before leaving on a boat provided by the street singer. Barnaba arrives demanding his reward and Gioconda sings a casual song while she puts on jewels and ornaments. Gioconda then takes the dagger and stabs herself. Barnaba screams out that he has murdered her mother but Gioconda is already dead.

Famous Arias

Suicidio!, Alvise's Aria

Ora posso morir... Vo' farmi più gaia, Duet between Gioconda and Barnaba

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