La cambiale di matrimonio, Opera by G. Rossini
Gioachino Rossini composed La cambiale di matrimonio when he was just 18 years old and still studying at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna. In what would become typical working style, the writing took but a few days. Gaetano Rossi supplied the libretto, with a look to Camillo Federici’s play of the same name from 1791 as well as Carlo Coccia’s operatic adaptation of it from 1807. As Rossini’s first ever professional opera, La cambiale di matrimonio marks an important moment in musical history, and Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice is happy to deliver the lesson.
Based in London from the 18th century, La cambiale di matrimonio translates to The Marriage Contract in English and starts with the plans for the arranged marriage of Fanny to the Canadian businessman Slook. Fanny’s father, Tobias Mill, is eager to marry her off and collect his payment. Unbeknownst to him, however, Fanny already has a relationship with Edward Milfort, a handsome but poor young man. With the help of the servants Norton and Clarina and through a series of comical situations, Slook realises the marriage contract will not be fulfilled as planned. Touched by the two lovers’ strong feelings, the Canadian joins them in trying to convince the livid Tobias to let love win.
Rossini may have been at the start of his musical career when he wrote La cambiale di matrimonio, but he delivered the goods on the first try already. The overture, written during his studies no less, quickly became a standalone concert piece that get regular performances to this day. Never shy to quote himself, Rossini also famously reused the duet ‘Dunque io son’ in another hit opera of his, namely The Barber of Seville. Going to La Fenice to see this one-act farsa comica, therefore, guarantees you a look at a genius’s first steps – it is definitely worth your while!