In June 1805, Cherubini took up an invitation to travel to Vienna, where his works were highly appreciated. Here he put on a series of concerts and attended a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio. He met Haydn, a composer he particularly admired, and gave him a medal from the Conservatoire de Paris. Haydn presented Cherubini with the manuscript of his "Drumroll Symphony". Cherubini also accepted a commission to write an opera for the Viennese stage and Faniska was the result. The plot has much in common with Cherubini's earlier rescue opera Lodoïska (1791), including its Polish setting.
The opera was first performed at the Theater am Kärntnertor, Vienna, on 25 February 1806. It was enthusiastically received by Beethoven and Haydn but failed to win a lasting place in the repertoire.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast|
25 February 1806
|Rasinski, mayor of Rava||tenor|
|Faniska, his wife||soprano||Anna Milder|
|Hedwig, his daughter||soprano||Thérèse Neumann|
|Zamoski, mayor of Sandomir||bass||Karl Friedrich Clemens Weinmüller|
|Oranski, captain of the Cossacks in Zamoski's service||bass||Johann Vogel|
|Moska, Zamoski's maid||soprano|
|Rasno, her nephew||tenor||Wilhelm Ehlers|
|Manoski, a friend of Rasinski||tenor|
|Two Cossack officials||tenor and bass|
|Chorus: Cossacks, guards, servants, countrymen and women|
Zamoski, the starosta of Sandomir, orders his Cossack henchman Oranski to kidnap Faniska, the wife of the starosta of Rava, Rasinski. Faniska is taken to Zamoski's castle but manages to resist his advances. Rasinski arrives at the castle disguised as a messenger. Zamoski sees through his disguise and throws Rasinski and Faniska into the castle dungeon.
Zamoski's maid Moska and Moska's nephew Rasno try to free the couple from prison but their plan fails.
The couple finally manage to escape with Rasno's help. Rasinski's soldiers attack the castle, Zamoski is killed and Oranski is captured and brought to trial.
- Deane p. 16
- Holden, p. 209
- "Faniska – DelTeatro" (in Italian). Del Teatro. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- "Almanacco 25 February 1806" (in Italian). AmadeusOnline. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
- "Milder-Hauptmann, Anna." by in F. A. Marshall and Christopher Howard Gibbs in Grove Music Online (subscription required)
- Deane, Basil, Cherubini New York: Oxford University Press, 1965
- Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4