Umberto Giordano (1867–1948)
Libretto by Nicola Daspuro adapted from a verismo play of the same name by Salvatore di Giacomo and Goffredo Cognetti
First performance Teatro Argentina, Rome, 21 February 1892
The opera's story revolves around a love triangle between Vito, a dyer afflicted with tuberculosis; Cristina, a prostitute whom Vito has vowed to marry in return for God curing him of his disease; and Amalia, Vito's mistress but married to Annetiello, a hard-drinking habitué of the brothel where Cristina worked. The action unfolds amidst the neighbourhood's preparations for the Piedigrotta festival.
Previous Wexford performances of operas by Giordano:
La cena delle beffe, 1987 / Siberia, 1999
Franco Leoni (1864–1949)
Libretto by Camillo Zanoni, based on the Cat and the Cherub by C. B. Fernald
First performance Covent Garden, London, 28 June 1905
Set in San Francisco, the opera opens upon the fifth hour of the Chinese new year's day. Chim-Fen, owner of an opium den, wants to marry Ah-Joe, the daughter of the merchant Hu-Tsin, but she only has eyes for San-Lui. During the procession of the dragon when everyone is distracted, Chim-Fen kidnaps Hu-Tsin’s son Hu-Chi, hoping that his father will offer Ah-Joe’s hand in marriage to whomever finds his boy. But San-Lui discovers the child before Chim-Fen can return him, so Chim-Fen murders the man with a hatchet.
Ah-Joe is driven literally insane with grief over the death of his lover. San-Lui’s father, the distinguished doctor Win-Shee, finds the little boy and returns him to Hu-Tsin. Quietly speaking to Chim-Fen, who feigns indignation over San-Lui’s murder, as they sit on a bench, Win-Shee first stabs, then strangles, the horrible man who murdered his son. A policeman walking by thinks the two men, one of whom is dead, are engrossed in conversation. When he turns the corner, the body drops to the ground. San-Lui is dead, Ah-Joe is insane, and a good and decent man has been driven to murder.