ⓘ La fedeltà premiata


ⓘ La fedeltà premiata

La fedeltà premiata, Hob. XXVIII/10, is an opera in three acts by Joseph Haydn first performed at the Eszterhaza on 25 February 1781 to celebrate the reopening of the court theatre after a fire. It was revised for a new version first performed in 1782.


1. Composition and performance history

The main opera house adjoining the palace at Eszterhaza had been destroyed by fire in November 1779; La fedeltà premiata, composed in 1780, inaugurated the new state-of-the-art theatre in the grounds which opened after major delays 15 months later. The opera was written during the most prolific period of Haydns operatic composition between 1773 and 1783 when he composed eight Italian operas.

The libretto was adapted by Haydn and an anonymous colleague from Giambattista Lorenzis Linfedeltà fedele, which had been set by Cimarosa in 1779. Haydn had access to Cimarosas score, although the Neapolitan dialect and crude jokes were removed and the nine characters in the former setting reduced to eight by the conflation of two female roles. In its revised and shortened version, La fedeltà premiata is designated a dramma pastorale giocoso a comic opera with pastoral elements.

The opera was revived twice in Eszterhaza after 1782. In December 1784, Mozart attended a German-language production at the Theater am Karntnertor in Vienna, the work of his future collaborator Emanuel Schikaneder. However, after some performances in Bratislava from 1785–87, as with all Haydn operas, it disappeared completely from the stage after his death.

In 1958, the BBC broadcast extracts from an incomplete manuscript. The first modern performance took place at the Holland Festival in 1970 and the first complete recording was made by Philips in 1976 in association with the Radio Suisse Romande and the European Broadcasting Union. The 1979 Glyndebourne stage production was due to be recorded by Southern Television.

The opera received its Munich premiere at the Cuvillies Theatre on 25 March 2011 – 230 years after Mozarts Idomeneo, its exact contemporary, premiered at that venue. Christopher Ward led a performance by the Bavarian State Orchestra and singers of the Bavarian State Operas Opera Studio.


2. Synopsis

The people of Cumae worship Diana, goddess of hunting and chastity. Their rites however have been defiled by a nymph whose treachery has brought a curse on them. To propitiate the angry goddess, two faithful lovers must be sacrificed each year to a lake monster until a faithful lover can be found to offer his own life. Fidelity, therefore, is at a premium in Cumae, and victims are hard to find.

The plot is "part thriller about lovers being sacrificed to a monster, part burlesque sending up pseudo-classical and early romantic emotions".


2.1. Synopsis Act 1

A temple dedicated to Diana

Melibeo presides over preliminary rites on a day of sacrifice, assisted by Lindoro and Nerina, whose affair is coming to an end; Lindoro is tired of Nerina and hopes for a liaison with the shepherdess Celia. Lindoros sister Amaranta, recently arrived in Cumae, comes to worship. She is on the look-out for a lover but startled to hear of the risk in true love. Melibeo suggests that as High Priests are exempt, she might give her attentions to him. She agrees, on condition that he favours her brothers suit with Celia.

Perrucchetto, a traveller, philanderer and coward arrives claiming to have been chased by robbers. His racing pulse quickens when he sees Amaranta, to whom he swiftly declares love. She is also overcome, especially when discovering that he is a Count. Melibeo threatens Perrucchetto, who reacts by billeting himself on the High Priest.

A garden

Young shepherd Fileno laments the death of his beloved Fillide Celia killed by a snake. He is told by Nerina of Lindoros desertion and she begs him to plead on her behalf; Fileno agrees not realising that this his beloved.

Another wood

Celia arrives wearily with her sheep in search of her lover Fileno and sleeps amongst her flock. Nerina returns with Fileno, who, to his amazement and delight recognises Celia – alive and well. He is unaware of the fatal penalty awaiting faithful lovers, but Celia, spotting Melibeo waiting to pounce, spurns Fileno to save his life: naturally he is angry and desolate.

Fileno, intent on self-destruction, goes off followed by Celia, who is followed by Lindoro and Perrucchetto, who sees in Celia a more enticing prospect than Amaranta, who in turn is offended and turns back to Melibeo. Perrucchetto, rejected by Celia returns to make peace with Amaranta but then chases Nerina, infuriating Amaranta.

A dark wood

Melibeo tries to blackmail Celia into the match with Lindoro suggested by Amaranta – she must consent or else die with Fileno. Celia asks Nerina to warn Fileno that his life is in danger. Although Nerina agrees to help, as she has now fallen in love with Fileno her help is not altogether disinterested.

As the first act reaches its climax, Melibeo has Fileno tied up. Fileno curses Celia when he learns she is to marry Lindoro. At this point Nerina enters pursued by satyrs who carry off numerous nymphs, including Celia.


2.2. Synopsis Act 2

A grove

Celia is rescued by shepherds. Melibeo takes stock of the situation. If he could make a match between Nerina and Fileno that would leave Celia free for Lindoro and then he can claim Amaranta. He encourages Nerina to use her charm on Fileno and allows her to release him from his bonds. Fileno is at first grateful, but seeing Celia with Lindoro pretends ardent love for Nerina to spite Celia. She remonstrates with Nerina who advises that she forget Fileno.

Fileno resolves to stab himself, but first carves a message of love to Celia on a tree trunk. However in doing this he breaks his dagger, so determines instead to throw himself off a cliff.

A mountainside

As he is about to do this, the hunt assembles in honour of Diana. Perrucchetto enters pursued by a bear, followed by Amaranta fleeing a boar. Perrucchetto takes refuge in a tree; Amaranta faints just as Fileno kills the boar. When she comes round, Perrucchetto claims that he saved her, but the boar is borne off to the temple.

A dreadful grotto

Celia finds the message on the tree and seeks solitude in a cave. Melibeo, seeing this, changes his plans again: if Nerina can lure Perrucchetto into the cave with Celia they can be framed as lovers and sent to the monster. This is accomplished and the pair are robed as sacrificial victims. Thunder proclaims the wrath of Diana.


2.3. Synopsis Act 3

A hall, then a landscape with a view of the lake

The victims take leave of their real lovers. At the last moment Fileno decides to sacrifice his own life to save Celia. As he offers himself to the monster, it transforms itself into Diana who accepts the purity and selflessness of his act and for ever absolves Cumae from the fatal curse. Apart from Melibeo, struck down by Dianas arrows, the opera ends happily with the union of Celia and Fileno, Amaranta and Perrucchetto, and Nerina and Lindoro.


3. Music

In this opera Haydn combined the worlds of opera seria and opera buffa, achieving a balance between the heroic and the comic and allowing himself to explore a wide variety of musical styles from serious emotions to hilarious parody.

On one hand, both the nobly-born characters Celia and Fileno have deeply felt cavatine early in the opera and later Celia contemplates her own death in a musically adventurous scene "Ah come il core".

On the other, Melibeos "Mi dica, il mio signore" is comic and in act 2, the Count has a comic song "Di questo audace ferro" addressed to the not-quite-inert boar. The fright, cowardice and deranged state of Perrucchetto – whose name literally means "wig-maker" – are displayed in his breathless G minor entrance aria, which ends with a request for a bottle of Bordeaux wine.

While Amarantas interaction with the others is usually comic, she is given a tender and tragic aria "Del amor mio fedele". This blurring of heroic and comic is also seen in the act 2 finale, where Haydn parodies Glucks chorus of furies from Orfeo ed Euridice.

The complex finale to act 1 is based around keys related by thirds four moves down a third, then a half tone step – possibly to represent the downwards progression of the plot – Robbins Landon has observed that this sequence is imitated in the opening numbers of Mozarts Così fan tutte. Haydns key relationships in the act 2 finale are developed further in Così.

John Rice considers that the dramatic action of La fedeltà premiata moves forward with great energy, successfully solving the problems of dramatic pacing that detract from some of his other operas.

The overture was used by Haydn as the finale of his Symphony No 73 La Chasse 1781/82.

Celias scene "Ah come il core" was published separately as a cantata for soprano and orchestra in 1782.

The work is scored for flute, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 trumpets, 2 horns, timpani, violins I & II, viola, cello, bass and continuo. Celias aria "Deh soccorri un infelice" includes a hand horn solo.


4. Recordings


  • David Golub/Patrizia Ciofi/Daniela Barcellona/Monica Groop/John Aler/Simon Edwards/Christopher Schalkenbrand/Charles Austin, 1999, Arabesque Recordings Z675-3
  • Dorati/Cotrubas/Von Stade/Valentini Terrani/Landy/Alva/Titus/Mazzieri, 1975, Philips. For full details, see La fedeltà premiata Antal Dorati recording
  • Sandor/Zempleni/Kincses/Paszthy/Fulop/Rozsos/Vaghelyi/Gregor, 1977, Hungaroton
  • La fedeltà premiata Fidelity rewarded is a 162 - minute studio album of Joseph Haydn s opera, performed by Luigi Alva, Ileana Cotrubas, Tonny Landy
  • Carmen, Catalani s La Wally as Gellner Donizetti s Don Pasquale with Sills, conducted by Sarah Caldwell Haydn s La fedeltà premiata conducted by Antal
  • the London Town Hall in a concert performance of Joseph Haydn s La fedeltà premiata She then specialized in 19th - century Italian bel canto and French
  • Rotterdam. The second version s music from Joseph Haydn s operas La fedeltà premiata and Il mondo della luna was recorded using analogue technology in
  • movement was originally composed as the overture to Haydn s opera La fedeltà premiata Fidelity Rewarded a detail which has helped secure the dating
  • his wife Priscilla and two daughters, Miranda and Susanna. Haydn: La fedeltà premiata Antal Dorati recording Haydn: Il mondo della luna Antal Dorati
  • Life, Ernst Bacon, Joel Krosnick, cello and Gilbert Kalish, piano. La fedeltà premiata Haydn, Z6751 - 3 1999 Schumann: Song Cycles Op. 24, 42 48 Leon
  • She sang Haydn operas with Antal Dorati, Diana in La fedeltà premiata in 1975, and Baroness Irene in La vera costanza a year later. A reviewer noted about
  • pastore recording, 1967 Tamino in The Magic Flute Haydn: Lindoro in La fedeltà premiata recording, 1976 Ecclittico in Il mondo della luna Gernando in L isola
  • Nicolas Dalayrac Le Chevalier à la mode Marc - Antoine Desaugiers Les Deux sylphes Joseph Haydn La fedeltà premiata Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Idomeneo
  • as conductor, as follows: La fedeltà premiata 1975 Lucia Valentini Terrani, Frederica von Stade, Cotrubas, Luigi Alva La vera costanza 1976 Jessye