General information
Title CZMirandolina
Subtitle CZkomická opera o třech dějstvích
Title ENMirandolina
Subtitle ENcomic opera in three acts
Title DEMirandolina
Subtitle DEkomische Oper in drei Aufzügen
Title FR
Subtitle FR
CategoryStage Works and Film Music
Halbreich number and suffix346
Parts of composition (movements)1st act: 8 scenes, orchestral intermezzo before the 8th scene *** 2nd act: 6 scenes, orchestral intermezzo before the 2nd scene; a separate ballet scene "Sartarello" at the end of the second act (see H 346 A) *** 3rd act: 6 scenes, orchestral intermezzo before the 4th scene
Durata103' (35' + 31' + 4' [Sartarello] + 33')
Solo voice
List of charactersknight di Rippafratta (B), marquis di Forlimpopoli (B), count d'Albafiorita (T), Mirandolina (S), comedians Ortensia and Dejanira (S, A), Fabrizio (T), the knight's servant (T), jeweller (Sp), ballet
Diplomatic transcription of dedication
Note on dedication
Place of composition
Year of origin1954
Initiation of composition15.12.1953
Finishing of composition01.07.1954
Last modification of composition
First performance
Performer Václav Kašlík (dir./cond.), Luděk Mandaus (režie/director), František Tröster (scéna/scen.), Antonín Landa (choreografie), Maria Tauberová (Mirandolina), Přemysl Kočí (di Rippafratta), Oldřich Kovář (d'Albafiorita), Jaroslav Horáček (di Forlimpopoli)
Horáček, Jaroslav
Kašlík, Václav
Kočí, Přemysl
Kovář, Oldřich
Landa, Antonín
Mandaus, Luděk
Tauberová, Maria
Tröster, František
Date of first performance17.05.1959
Location of first performancePrague, Smetana's Theatre (nowadays State Opera)
Ensemble Orchestr a balet Smetanova divadla
Autograph deposition
InstitutionBärenreiter, Kassel
Deposition location
OwnerBärenreiter, Kassel
Note on manuscriptThe piano reduction by a copyist's hand and 1 page of the autograph list of corrections are also held by the Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel.
Place of issue
PublisherBärenreiter, Kassel
Year of publication1959
CopyrightBärenreiter, Kassel
NoteLibretto (Italian) by B. Martinů after Carlo Goldoni's play La Locandiera. *** German translation of the libretto by Carl Stueber, Czech translation by Rudolf Vonásek. *** Title on the title page of the autograph score: "Mirandolina. | Commedia in 3 acts. (C. Goldoni)". *** Second act completed on 07.05.1954, third act on 23.06.1954, Saltarello on 30.06.1954.


Carlo Goldoni (b. Venice, 25 February 1707; d. Paris, 6 February 1793) earned the greatest credit in terms of contribution to the history of world drama — in the eyes of some at least - by giving the gift of speech to the traditional mime characters of the commedia dell' arte. By no means, however, was that his sole incontestable merit. There was actually much more to Goldoni's contribution: namely, his theatre con­stituted an imaginary world in its own right, bringing to life a gallery of lifelike, ut­terly credible characters belonging to both bourgeois and aristocratic milieus of his time. Through them, he ushered onto the stage a novel sense of thrill and a fresh sense of humour; in Goldoni's output, comic element was invariably wed to original dramatic plots charged with a good deal of suspense. Those very qual­ities of theatre were, at certain stages of his compositional development in particu­lar, close to the creative approaches of Bohuslav Martinů (b. Polička, Bohemia, 8 Dec. 1890; d. Liestal, Switzerland, 28 Aug. 1959). This is documented by more than a few aspects of his extensive legacy, including his other opera (combined with mime) dating from the 1930s eloquently entitled Theatre behind the Gate.

After a fairly long period of reflection, Martinů finally decided to set a comedy by Goldoni during his stay in Nice. He sojourned there from September 1953 until the summer of 1955 when he topped that period off compositionally with the chamber-format cantata The Opening of the Wells. The beautiful French Riviera with its azure skies and fragrant sea breeze could indeed have influenced the tenor of his compositions from that time. To be sure, they were to be crowned, quite by design, by an operatic work, one with whose score the composer actually intended to pay back his scholarship from the Guggenheim Foundation of New York. Martinů was looking forward to visiting Italy just as well, a country with which he had been in love ever since his first visit during a tour with the Czech Philharmonic back in 1922. That early trip then included a stopover in Florence, the venue of Goldoni's comedy La locandiera ("The Mistress of the Inn", 1753). In the autumn of 1953, Martinů, accompanied by his wife Charlotte, arrived in Nice, France, by then an internationally acknowledged composer. Soon he would feel like paying a visit to Italy as well. "I am pretty sure it will do the two of us good - to be in the country, far from the Babel that is New York; I am looking forward to the moment I will start working, it's so quiet and peaceful here that composing will be sheer delight," he wrote in a letter home to Polička, dated 16 September 1953.

It was not until the end of the year, though, that he felt quite sure about the exact model for his opera. He worked on the libretto virtually all by himself (in Italian), where­fore he also spent a few days in Italy. The work took him about six months; he complet­ed the score on 1 July 1954 as his wife noted in her diary, where she patiently stored data concerning the progress of his compositional endeavours. The work's original title was identical with that of the Goldoni vehicle La locandiera; from the date of its Prague premiere, 17 May 1959, however, it was to be known in the world of opera as Mirandolina, the name of its heroine, created on that first occasion unforgettably by Maria Tauberová. Quite naturally it is the character of the innkeeper Mirandolina that attracts most of the attention; in the original stage play and in the opera alike, the role in the latter genre being assigned to a coloratura soprano. There, instead of receiving the standard heroic tenor counterpart, she is balanced by no fewer than three male voices: those of the Cavaliere di Rippafratta (bass-baritone), Marquis di Forlimpopoli (bass), and Count d'Albafiorita (tenor). The circle is completed by the characters of Fabrizio the waiter (tenor), and a pair of cameo female parts of the actresses Ortensia (soprano) and De-ianira (contralto). Another interesting feature is the incorporation of sev­eral spoken dialogues involving the principals into the sung and orchestral stream, a de­vice Martinů used elsewhere as well to liven up stage action.

In its essence, Mirandolina is really at home in the realm of chamber music, its character being close to that of the early opera intermezzo which was meant to ease up some­what the solemnity and pomp of serious opera. This is brilliantly exemplified here by the presence of a saltarello, a much loved Italian dance in lively 6/8 metre, previously favored among others also by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in the final movement of his Italian Symphony. For his part, Martinů placed his own dazzling saltarello stylization before Act Three, where it has found its way onto the concert platforms as an orchestral piece existing on its own. Indeed, Martinů's Saltarello is in perfect harmony with the echoes of Italian atmosphere permeating throughout the opera which as a whole exudes a spirit of a sunny day filled with carnival revelry. It is intimately linked with the musical idea that is central to the portrayal of the title heroine. It is far from easy to create a viable operatic parallel to a truly famous theatrical classic. If Martinů stood up to the challenge in this particular case, it is at the same time ample proof of the originality of his idiom, which proved on a par here with its great model, establishing a dialogue with the latter very much on its own terms. Beyond that, Mirandolina also illustrates with much eloquence that the strong penchant for Gallic and Romance culture and civilization, which had shaped Martinů's style ever since his youth to develop fully and definitively after his arrival in Paris in 1923, had still deeper roots. In this opera, Martinů expanded the Czech intellectual horizon by a new, remarkable trajectory linking it with the world of Italian culture. It joined the chorus of similar trajectories, both earlier and later ones, which may not be too numerous yet which have been passed down from one generation to the next through the centuries, like so many permanent ties between major artists and thinkers of two realms of thought which have never ceased to influence each other.


Jaroslav Mihule

Sleeve-note taken from CD Mirandolina, © Supraphon 2004, 3770-2 632




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