Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra

Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra (Italian pronunciation: [elizaˈbɛtta reˈdʒiːna diŋɡilˈtɛrra]; Elizabeth, Queen of England) is a dramma per musica or opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini to a libretto by Giovanni Schmidt, from the play Il paggio di Leicester (Leicester's Page) by Carlo Federici, which itself "was derived from a novel The Recess (1785) by Sophia Lee."[1]

Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra
dramma per musica by Gioachino Rossini
Portrait of the composer
LibrettistGiovanni Schmidt
Based onIl paggio di Leicester
by Carlo Federici
4 October 1815 (1815-10-04)

It was premiered at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples on 4 October 1815 and was the first of nine operas which Rossini wrote for the San Carlo.[2] Altogether, this was one of eighteen operas which he wrote during the time he spent in Naples.[3]

Rossini took melodies from other operas to compose Elisabetta, including the overture, first written for Aureliano in Palmira, which is famous as the overture to The Barber of Seville. As Holden notes, with the re-uses of earlier music, "it is as if Rossini wished to present himself to the Neapolitan public by offering a selection of the best music from operas unlikely to have been revived in Naples."[4]

Some of Elisabetta 's music was recycled in later operas and a part of Elisabetta's first aria was re-used by Rossini four months later in Rosina's aria "Una voce poco fa" in the opera The Barber of Seville.[5]

Performance history

The opera was first given in the UK on 30 April 1818 at the King's Theatre in London.[4]

Notable performances include Palermo (1970), Arles (1975), Teatro Regio di Torino , the Teatro San Carlo, Naples (1991), in New York (1998, given by Opera Northwest), at the Teatro Margarita Xirgu, Buenos Aires (2004), and at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro (2004).[6]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 4 October 1815
(Conductor: Nicola Festa)
Elisabetta (Elizabeth I of England) soprano Isabella Colbran
The Earl of Leicester, Commander of the army tenor Andrea Nozzari
Matilda, secretly married to Leicester soprano Girolama Dardanelli
Enrico, Matilda's brother contralto Maria Manzi
The Duke of Norfolk tenor Manuel Garcia
Guglielmo, Captain of the Royal Guard tenor Gaetano Chizzola
Knights, ladies, noble Scotsmen hostages to Elisabetta, official followers of Leicester, pages,
royal guards, soldiers, people (chorus)


Time: Reign of Elizabeth I
Place: London

Act 1

Throne Room of Whitehall Palace,[7]

The Earl of Leicester is celebrating his victory over the Scots. The Duke of Norfolk, who is also present, scowls with jealousy. The Queen enters: (Aria: Quant'è grato all'alma mia). Leicester is honored, and says he has brought home the sons of nobility as hostages. However, he recognizes his wife, Matilda, and her brother, Enrico, as belonging to that group.

When they are alone, Leicester reproaches his wife (Duet: Incauta, che festi?). Because she is the daughter of Mary, Queen of the Scots, she is in danger. Matilda tells Leicester that the Queen loves him as well. She mourns her ill fortune: (Aria: Sento un'interna voce). Leicester decides that, to avoid suspicion, he will speak to neither Matilda nor to her brother, Enrico.

Royal apartments[7]

Instead, Leicester tells Norfolk of his secret marriage and Norfolk, in turn, tells the Queen: (Duet: Perché mai, destin crudele). She reacts to the news in fury.

The hostages and Leicester are sent for. The Queen offers to make him consort, and, upon his refusal, she accuses him of treason, and has both him and Matilda arrested.

Act 2

Rooms in the Palace[7]

The Queen states that she has sentenced Matilda to death. She demands that Matilda renounce her marriage to Leicester in return for his, her brother, Enrico's, and her own safety. Leicester enters, tears the document up, and is once again arrested along with Matilda. Also, the Queen banishes Norfolk banished for behaving badly towards Leicester.

Outside the Tower of London

People lament Leicester's upcoming execution. Norfolk appears. He induces the crowd to try to free Leicester.

Leicester's prison cell

He laments his fate. Norfolk enters and convinces Leicester that he has begged the Queen to pardon him, instead of having betrayed him. The Queen enters to see Leicester prior to his death. Norfolk has hidden, and Matilda and Enrico are hiding as well. Leicester tells the Queen that Norfolk has accused him. Norfolk emerges with a dagger drawn to stab the Queen, when Matilda emerges and throws herself between them. The Queen condemns Norfolk to death, and, in the aria, Bell'alme generose, pardons Leicester and the Scottish prisoners.[8]


Year Cast
(Elisabetta, Leicester,
Opera House and Orchestra
1971 Leyla Gencer
Umberto Grilli
Margherita Guglielmi
Giovanna Vighi,
Pietro Bottazzo
Gianandrea Gavazzeni,
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Massimo, Palermo,
(Recording of a performance in Palermo)
Audio CD: Celestial Audio
Cat: CA 235
1975 Montserrat Caballé,
José Carreras,
Valerie Masterson,
Rosanne Creffeld,
Ugo Benelli
Gianfranco Masini,
Ambrosian Opera Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra
Audio CD: Philips
Cat: 432 453-2
1985 Lella Cuberli
Antonio Savastano,
Daniela Dessi,
Adriana Cicogna,
Rockwell Blake
Gabriele Ferro,
Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Regio di Torino,
(Recording of a performance in Turin)
DVD: Hardy Classic Video
Cat: 4007
1999 Inga Balabanova,
Harald Quadeen,
Akie Amou,
Maria Zeffiri,
Agata Bienkowska
Herbert Handt, Stuttgarter Philarmoniker, Tschechischer Kammerchor,
(Recording of a performance at Kursaal Bad Wildbad during the Rossini in Wildbad Festival, July)
Audio CD: Bongiovanni
Cat: GB 2291/92-2
2002 Jennifer Larmore
Bruce Ford
Marjella Cullagh
Manuela Custer,
Antonino Siragusa
Giuliano Carella,
The Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC 22



  1. Opera Scotland website at operascotland.org. Retrieved 17 December 2012
  2. Osborne, Richard 1998, "Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra" in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera
  3. Osborne, Richard and Philip Gossett 1998, "Rossini, Gioachino", in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera
  4. Holden 2001, p. 775
  5. Osborne, Richard, Rossini 1990, pp. 174–75
  6. Available recordings of the opera on operadis-opera-discography.org
  7. Source: Rossini Opera Festival website, rossinioperafestival.it Archived 2011-02-17 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 16 June 2012
  8. Kobbé 1978, p. ??
  9. Source: operadis-opera-discography.org


  • Gossett, Philip; Brauner, Patricia (2001), " Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra " in Holden, Amanda (ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Kobbé, Gustave (1976), The New Kobbé's Complete Opera Book, NY:Putnam. ISBN 0399116338 ISBN 0-399-11633-8
  • Osborne, Charles (1994), The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0931340713
  • Osborne, Richard, Rossini (1990), Ithaca, New York: Northeastern University Press. ISBN 1-55553-088-5
  • Osborne, Richard (1998), "Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra", in Stanley Sadie, (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Vol. Two. p. 2. London: Macmillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-333-73432-7 ISBN 1-56159-228-5
  • Osborne, Richard and Philip Gossett, "Rossini, Gioachino", in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, edited by Stanley Sadie. Grove Music Online at Oxford Music Online
  • Toye, Francis (re-issue 1987), Rossini: The Man and His Music, Dover Publications, 1987. ISBN 0486253961 ISBN 0-486-25396-1,
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