La lettera anonima

La lettera anonima (The anonymous letter) is a farce in one act composed by Gaetano Donizetti in 1822 to a libretto by Giulio Genoino, a former monk and the official censor of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Genoino based his libretto on his own farce[1] which, in turn, had been based on Mélite, ou Les fausses lettres by Pierre Corneille in 1630.

With a letter of recommendation from his teacher Johann Simon Mayr, Donizetti was in Naples and, on 12 May 1822, came to an agreement to write the opera with the impresario Domenico Barbaja, for whom he had already produced La zingara (The Gypsy Girl). Six weeks later he presented the new farce to the public, the premiere taking place on 29 June 1822.

Overall, the opera appears to have been well received and given twenty performances, although according to Donizetti, "it was half-ruined by a novice singer (Cecconi)".[1] However, as has been noted, "the score contains an attractive speciality number for the dancing master, Flageolet, and an extended quartet, 'Stelle che intesti', the one number of the work to be praised by critics after the premiere"[2] because it avoided "those caballetas and that symmetrical repetition of motifs which obliges all the performers to repeat the same musical phrases no matter what the different emotions may agitate them".[3]


Role Voice type Premiere cast,[1]
29 June 1822[2]
(Conductor: – )
Countess Rosina soprano Flora Fabbri
Captain Filinto, her lover tenor Giovanni Battista
Melita, Rosina's tenant soprano Teresa Cecconi
Lauretta, Rosina's maid soprano Raffaela de Bernardis
Don Macario, Rosina's Uncle baritone De Franchi
Giliberto, Don Macario's Housekeeper bass Giovanni Pace
Flagiolet, A Dancing Teacher baritone Calvarola
Chorus: Servants and Room-attendants


Place: France
Time: 17th century[1]

Countess Rosina and Captain Filinto are going to get married. An anonymous letter claiming that the Captain is already married to another arrives on the wedding day. This letter is finally found to be false, and the preparations for the wedding party continue.


Year Cast:
Countess Rosina,
Don Macario
Opera House and Orchestra
1972 Benedetta Pecchioli,
Pietro Bottazzo,
Rosa Laghezza,
Carla Virgili,
Rolando Panerai
Franco Caracciolo,
Orchestra Scarlatti di Napoli and the Amici della Polifonia Chorus
CD: On Stage
Cat: 4702



  1. Osborne 1994, pp. 149–50
  2. Ashbrook and Hibberd 2001, p. 226
  3. The critic of the Giornale del Regno delle Due Sicilie quoted in Osborne 1994, p. 149
  4. "Recordings on". Retrieved 24 August 2012.

Cited 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.
  • Osborne, Charles, The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1994 ISBN 0-931340-71-3

Other sources

  • Allitt, John Stewart (1991), Donizetti: in the light of Romanticism and the teaching of Johann Simon Mayr, Shaftesbury: Element Books, Ltd (UK); Rockport, MA: Element, Inc.(USA)
  • Ashbrook, William (1982), Donizetti and His Operas, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23526-X
  • Ashbrook, William (1998), "Donizetti, Gaetano" in Stanley Sadie (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Vol. One. London: Macmillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-333-73432-7 ISBN 1-56159-228-5
  • Black, John (1982), Donizetti’s Operas in Naples, 1822—1848. London: The Donizetti Society.
  • Loewenberg, Alfred (1970). Annals of Opera, 1597-1940, 2nd edition. Rowman and Littlefield
  • Sadie, Stanley, (Ed.); John Tyrell (Exec. Ed.) (2004), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2nd edition. London: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-19-517067-2 (hardcover). ISBN 0-19-517067-9 OCLC 419285866 (eBook).
  • 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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