Francesca di Foix

Francesca di Foix is a melodramma giocoso (comic opera) in one act by Gaetano Donizetti with a libretto by Domenico Gilardoni based on one by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly and Emmanuel Mercier-Dupaty for Henri Montan Berton's 3-act opéra-comique Françoise de Foix, inspired by the life of Françoise de Foix.[1]

It received its first performance on 30 May 1831 at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples.

Performance history

The opera is chiefly known for having provided segments to other Donizetti operas, including Ugo, conte di Parigi, L'elisir d'amore and Gabriella di Vergy although a complete recording exists on the Opera Rara label.

It was given in London in November 2013, along with Debussy's L'enfant prodigue as a double bill, at the Guildhall School of Music staged by the Australian opera director Stephen Barlow. [2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 30 May 1831
(Conductor: - )
Francesca soprano Luigia Boccabadati
The king baritone Antonio Tamburini
Edmondo contralto Marietta Gioia Tamburini
The count bass Giovanni Campagnoli
The duke tenor Lorenzo Bonfigli
Knights, bridesmaids, peasants


Time: The Middle Ages
Place: France[3]

The Count is determined to keep his beautiful wife Francesca well away from the temptations of the French court. Knowing the amorous ways of the nobility he tells them that she is unwilling to appear in public because she is extremely ugly.

Unfortunately this raises the interest of the King who despatches one of his gentlemen (the Duke) to investigate, and if he finds that the Countess is beautiful he must lure her back incognito to court.

Sure enough the Duke is able to persuade Francesca to return to Paris with him. Rather than admit his deceit her husband at first refuses to acknowledge who she is. To force his hand the King announces that a tournament is to be held and the winning knight will be given Francesca's hand in marriage.

The Count can no longer keep up his subterfuge and admits that, driven by jealousy, he lied to the King and his courtiers. After due admonishment by the King all is forgiven and the Count and Countess live happily ever after.


Year Cast:
King, Edmondo,
Count, Duke)
Opera House and Orchestra
1982 Gillian Sullivan,
Lynne Smythe,
Della Jones,
Donald Maxwell,
Gordon Christie
David Parry (conductor) David Parry,
Opera Rara Orchestra and Chorus
(Recording of performance at Camden Festival in the Collegiate Theatre, March)
Cassette: Live Opera
Cat: 03460
2004 Annick Massis,
Pietro Spagnoli,
Jennifer Larmore,
Alfonso Antoniozzi,
Bruce Ford
Antonello Allemandi,
London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Geoffrey Mitchell Choir
Audio CD: Opera Rara
Cat: ORC 28



  1. Ashbrook 1982, p. 551, and Osborne 1994, p. 200. Berton's opera was first performed on 28 January 1809 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Feydeau. It continued to be performed there until 1825 (Wild and Charlton 2005, p. 264). Smart & Budden 2001, as well as Ashbrook 1992, say Gilardoni's libretto was based on Charles-Simon Favart's libretto Ninette à la cour as adapted for Louis Joseph Saint-Amans' 2-act opéra-comique, performed in 1791 at the Salle Favart (Cook 1992, p. 125). Favart's libretto was first written in 3 acts and performed as Le caprice amoureux, ou Ninette à la cour by the Théâtre-Italien with music by diverse composers on 12 February 1755. It was a parody of Vincenzo Legrenzio Ciampi's 2-act intermède Bertoldo in corte, an Italian opera buffa which had first been performed by Bambini's company at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal on 22 November 1753 as part of the Guerre des Bouffons (Pitou 1985, vol. 2, pp. 116, 564). Favart's libretto was also revised by Auguste Creuzé de Lesser as the 2-act opéra-comique Ninette à la cour, ou Le retour au village with music by Henri François Berton, first presented on 21 December 1811 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Feydeau, where it was kept in repertory for two years (Wild and Charlton 2005, p. 341).
  2. "L'enfant prodigue and Francesca di Foix at Guildhall", on Retrieved 11 December 2013
  3. Osborne, p. 200
  4. Source for recording information: Recordings of Francesca di Foix on

Cited sources

  • Ashbrook, William (1982), Donizetti and His Operas, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23526-X
  • Ashbrook, William (1992). "Donizetti, (Domenico) Gaetano (Maria): work-list" in Sadie 1992, vol. 1, pp. 1215–1218.
  • Cook, Elizabeth (1992). "Saint-Amans, Louis Joseph" in Sadie 1992, vol. 4, p. 125.
  • Osborne, Charles (1994). The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-71-3.
  • Pitou, Spire (1983–1990). The Paris Opéra: An Encyclopedia of Operas, Ballets, Composers, and Performers (3 volumes). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-686-46036-7.
  • Sadie, Stanley, editor (1992). The New Grove Dictionary of Opera (4 volumes). London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-56159-228-9.
  • Sadie, Stanley, editor; John Tyrell; executive editor (2001). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-56159-239-5 (hardcover). OCLC 419285866 (eBook).
  • Smart, Mary Ann; Budden, Julian (2001), "Donizetti, (Domenico) Gaetano (Maria)" in Sadie.
  • Wild, Nicole; Charlton, David (2005). Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique Paris: répertoire 1762-1972. Sprimont, Belgium: Editions Mardaga. ISBN 978-2-87009-898-1.

Other sources

  • Ashbrook, William and Sarah Hibberd (2001), in Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4. pp. 224 – 247.
  • Black, John (1982), Donizetti’s Operas in Naples, 1822—1848. London: The Donizetti Society.
  • Weinstock, Herbert (1963), Donizetti and the World of Opera in Italy, Paris, and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century, New York: Pantheon Books. LCCN 63-13703
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