Thieving Magpie, The (La gazza ladra)

Opera semiseria in two acts, libretto by Giovanni Gherardini after La pie voleuse by JMT Badouin d'Aubigny and Louis-Charles Caigniez

Composer: Rossini, Gioachino 1792 - 1868

Version: English version by Jeremy Sams

Rossini’s La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) was first performed in May 1817 at La Scala, Milan. Rossini was famous for his writing speed, and La gazza ladra was no exception. Reportedly, the producer had to lock Rossini in a room the day before the first performance in order to write the overture. Rossini then threw each sheet out of the window to his copyists, who then wrote out the full orchestral parts. Ironically, it is for its Overture that the opera is perhaps best known, through its many appearances on the concert platform, and on film and television. SYNOPSIS: Ninetta hopes to marry Giannetto, returning from the war. She tries to shelter her father Fernando Villabella, who has deserted from the army, and is troubled by the attentions of the mayor, Gottardo. A missing spoon and the evidence of Isacco, the pedlar, who has bought a piece of silver from Ninetta to raise money for her father, lead to her accusation and imprisonment. She is tried and found guilty, to be saved from death at the last minute by the discovery of the thief – the eponymous thieving magpie!