Adelson e Salvini

Adelson e Salvini (Adelson and Salvini) is a three-act opera semi-seria composed by Vincenzo Bellini from a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola. The opera was based on the 1772 novel Épreuves du Sentiment by François-Thomas-Marie de Baculard d'Arnaud, and it draws on a previously performed French play of 1803 by Prospère Delamare. [1]

Composition history

Bellini as a young man

Bellini's first opera was written as his final project at the Naples San Sebastiano Conservatory, when the composer was 23 years old. It was the custom at the Conservatory to introduce promising students to the public with a dramatic work. Bellini styled his project an opera semi-seria and it was first performed at the Teatro del Conservatorio di San Sebastiano in Naples sometime between mid-January and mid-March 1825, although David Kimbell states 12 February 1825.[2] Weinstock explains the uncertainty as to the exact date as being due to a series of deaths of several prominent people (including Bourbon King Ferdinand I) which caused all public entertainment to stop during periods of mourning.[3]

"With a view to professional staging", various revisions were undertaken between 1826 and 1828, but the opera was never performed professionally.[2]

Performance history

Bellini's score does not bring out much of the humour of the piece. Nevertheless, the work was so popular among the Conservatory's student audience that it was performed every Sunday for a year.

It was successful enough to generate a commission from the royal court, after it had captured the interest of the impresario Domenico Barbaja of the San Carlo Opera. Barbaja launched Bellini's career, commissioning him to write his next work, Bianca e Gernando in 1826, which was revised two years later as Bianca e Fernando. Although much influenced by the music of Gioacchino Rossini, this early piece exhibits some of the characteristic tuneful style and delicate vocal line that Bellini achieved in his mature works. Characteristically, Bellini was to re-use some of the music from this opera in later works,[2] notably Nelly's Act 1 Romanza "Dopo l'oscura nembo" which became Giulietta's aria "O quante volte" in I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Additionally, this was the only Bellini opera provided with Recitativo secco.

Bellini greatly revised the opera for another production in 1829, and later revised it further. However, the first professional production[4] was not given for over one hundred years at the Teatro Metropolitan in Bellini's home town of Catania on 6 November 1985.[2] Domenico De Meo further revised and edited the score of Adelson to prepare it for a 1992 production at the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily. The following year, the Italian label Nuova Era issued Adelson e Salvini on compact discs.


Giacinto Marras
Role Voice type Premiere cast[5]
12 February 1825
(Conductor: – )
Nelly soprano Giacinto Marras
Fanny contralto
Madame Rivers contralto Luigi Rotellini
Salvini, friend of Adelson tenor Leonardo Perugini
Lord Adelson baritone Antonio Manzi
Struley bass Talamo
Bonifacio, servant of Salvini bass Giuseppe Ruggiero
Geronio bass Ciotola


Place: Ireland
Time: 17th century[6]

Act 1

Lord Adelson is on his way home to his castle where his fiancée Nelly, a young orphan, and his friend Salvini, the Roman painter are in residence. Salvini is secretly in love with Nelly, while Salvini is secretly loved by Fanny, a young Irish woman whom he gives painting lessons to. Colonel Struley, outlawed some years before by Adelson's father, is also Nelly's uncle and, secretly he returns to the island with the aim of stealing her away from the castle to take revenge on the Adelson family. Meanwhile, Nelly discovers Salvini's passion and is horrified.

As Adelson returns, Salvini is torn between his love for Nelly and friendship towards Adelson. He contemplates suicide, while the Neapolitan servant, Bonifacio Beccheria, tries to comfort him. However, Struley who has learned of Salvini's feelings for Nelly, has also intercepted a letter from Adelson's family in which they try to force Adelson to marry a high-born London girl. Unable to decide what to do next, when Nelly asks him to read the letter aloud, Struley invents some fatal news: by the provisions of the will of Adelson's uncle, he is forced to marry the daughter of a duke, and must break off his engagement to Nelly. When Adelson returns to the castle, not knowing that this news has been spread, he creates confusion by telling his friend Salvini that he may have the girl - thinking that to be Fanny. On the other hand, Salvini believes it means that Adelson is already married and that he intends for Nelly to be able to marry Salvini.

Act 2

Everything is ready for the wedding between Adelson and Nelly but the absence of his worries about the castle. When she finally finds him, Salvini is going to shoot a pistol. Adelson stops him, he felt that the gesture is dictated by an unhappy love and passion, believing in Fanny identify the object of so much love, gave him the hand of the student painter. Neither, however, is the name of the girl and, in a game of misunderstanding, thank you Salvini momentum with his friend, believing he has granted the hand of Nelly.

Left alone, Salvini is approached by Struley, who aims to take advantage of his passion for Nelly to complete his criminal plans. Lying, the proscribed confides to Salvini that Adelson is in fact already secretly married to Milady Artur and that the promise and the marriage with Nelly are not the deception of a skilled seducer.

Struley ago set fire to a casino in the bottom of the castle grounds that, at the sight of the flames, all accorrano the disaster site and his men to kidnap Nelly. Salvini, after the girl reported the alleged deception of Adelson, initially becomes an accomplice to the colonel and Geronio.

The fire was put out, but a pistol shot is heard in the distance. Bonifacio rushes to the scene by telling you Salvini, realizing the deception, stabs Geronio and was slightly wounded by a bullet from Struley, but manages to free Nelly.

Salvini enters the scene and return his friend's girlfriend. He decided that he will leave for Rome, trattenervisi for a year before returning to the castle and marry Fanny.

The final version of the first Nelly has escaped the ambush of Struley but is unconscious. Adelson, who has finally figured out who was the real object of the love of Salvini, shows the orphan into believing she's dead. Salvini wants to kill himself, but when he sees Nelly rise his joy is so great that his passion is sublimated and, finally abandoning his girlfriend of his friend, he is willing to marry the little Fanny.


Year Cast
(Salvini, Nelly, Adelson, Fanny)
Opera House and Orchestra
1985Bengt Gustavson,
Carina Morling,
Thomas Lander,
Ingrid Tobiasson
Anders-Per Jonnson,
Orchestra of the Stockholm Opera and the Stockholm Chamber Chorus
Live recording
3 LP records: Bongiovanni
Cat: GB 2034–2036
1992 Bradley Williams,
Alicia Nafé,
Fabio Previati,
Lucia Rizzi
Andrea Licata,
EAR Teatro Massimo Bellini Orchestra and Chorus, Catania
(Audio and video recordings of a performance (or of performances) at Catania, November)
Audio CD: Nuova Era
Cat: 7154-55
DVD: House of Opera,
Cat: DVDCC 109



  1. Text of Delamare's Adelson et Salvini, 1803 on (French)
  2. 1 2 3 4 Kimbell, in Holden, pp.46–47
  3. Weinstock 1971. pp. 37—38
  4. Rosselli, p. 39
  5. "Almanacco 12 February 1825" (in Italian). AmadeusOnline. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  6. Weinstock 1971, pp. 216—217: Synopsis is based on outline of the opera's plot
  7. Recordings of Adelson e Salvini on


External links

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