La zingara

La zingara (The Gypsy Girl) is an opera semiseria in two acts by Gaetano Donizetti, set to a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola after La petite bohémienne (The Little Gypsy) by Louis-Charles Caigniez, which was itself derived from a work of August von Kotzebue.

La zingara
Opera semiseria by Gaetano Donizetti
Donizetti as a young man
LibrettistAndrea Leone Tottola
Based onLa petite bohémienne
by Louis-Charles Caigniez
12 May 1822 (1822-05-12)

It was Donizetti's first opera written for Naples, and the first performance of this "rescue opera" took place at the Teatro Nuovo on 12 May 1822.

One critic reviewing the 2001 recording from the Festival della Valle d'Itria, the opera's first performance outside Italy, made the following observations:

Despite its moronic libretto, the opera was an enormous success at its premiere in Naples in 1822, and even Bellini wrote nice things about the second-act septet[1] in which Donizetti mixes buffo and serious characters, as well as Neapolitan dialect (there are no recitatives; numbers are separated by spoken dialogue) with "pure" Italian, and the absurd plot is (sort of) held together by the clever Argilla, who under the guise of telling fortunes gains entry to people's feelings as well as to every area of the castle. Is it a masterpiece? Even close? No, but there are niceties galore—rhythmic arias and ensembles, good (if typical) characterizations, and good tunes.[2]

Its American premiere was produced by Amore Opera in New York City in 2017.[3]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 12 May 1822
(Conductor: – )
Argilla mezzo-soprano Giacinta Canonici
Ines soprano Caterina Monticelli
Fernando tenor Marco Venier
Don Ranuccio Zappador bass Carlo Moncada
Don Sebastiano Alvarez bass Giuseppe Fioravanti
Duca d'Alziras tenor Alessandro Busti
Papaccione basso buffo Carlo Casaccia
Amelia soprano Francesca Ceccherini
Ghita soprano Clementina Grassi
Manuelita soprano Marianna Grassi
Antonio Alvarez baritone Raffaele Sarti
Sguiglio baritone Raffaele Casaccia
Domestici di Zappador e di zingari, chorus


Time: The middle ages
Place: Spain

Don Ranuccio has imprisoned Don Sebastiano in his castle and he also wants to kill the Duke of Alziras, his political rival. Ranuccio's daughter Ines is in love with Fernando, but her father wants her to marry Antonio who is Don Sebastiano's nephew.

Argilla, the gypsy girl of the title, brings together the lovers Ferrando and Ines, saves the life of the Duke, whom she brings together again with his brother, and frees Don Sebastiano, who turns out to be her father. Comedy is provided by the servant Pappacione, fooled into searching for gold in an old cistern. All ends happily.


Year Cast
(Argilla, Ines,
Don Sebastiano Alvarez, Duca d'Alziras)
Opera House and Orchestra
2001 Manuela Custer,
Rosita Ramini,
Massimiliano Barbolini,
Piero Terranova,
Cataldo Gallone
Arnold Bosman,
Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia and Bratislava Chamber Chorus
(Recorded at the Festival della Valle d'Itria, Martina Franca, July)
CD: Dynamic
Cat: CDS396/1-2



  1. Osborne 1994, p. 146: He notes that this was an "adumbration" of the famous sextet which appeared 13 years later in Lucia di Lammermoor
  2. Robert Levine, "Donizetti – La zingara Review of 2002 recording on Retrieved 23 December 2013
  3. "Arrivederci, Romany!" by John Yohalem, parterre box, 2 June 2017
  4. Recording(s) on

Cited sources

  • Osborne, Charles, (1994), The Bel Canto Operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. 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
  • Ashbrook, William; Sarah Hibberd (2001), in Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-14-029312-4. pp. 224 – 247.
  • 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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