I due Foscari

Verdi’s sixth opera, I due Foscari, is probably not well known to many readers so a brief description may be in order.  It’s a rather grim tale of injustice and revenge.  Francesco Foscari is the aged Doge of Venice.  His son, Jacopo, has been stitched up by the family rival Jacopo Loredano and exiled to Crete.  He returns to try and clear his name but is fitted up again.  This time for the murder of one Donato.  Despite torture he refuses to confess and is sentenced to return to exile in Crete.  The first three quarters of the opera is mostly either father or son bemoaning their fate (Francesco has already lost three sons.  Lady Bracknell would be unimpressed) or Lucrezia, Jacopo’s wife, pleading for mercy to anyone who will listen.  Then there’s a final scene where Francesco receives proof of his son’s innocence, closely followed by news of his death, closely followed by news that the Council and Senate are sacking him.  Loredano gloats.  Foscari dies.  Structurally it’s very much a “numbers” opera with a succession of short scenes mostly featuring various combinations of the three Foscaris and the chorus.  There are a lot of quite sophisticated ensemble pieces as well as a couple of solo arias for each of the principals.  It’s musically rather distinguished in fact.  The three Foscari roles are big sings.  Nobody else has much to do.

1.gondoliers

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