Let’s discover Adelaide di Borgogna

30 July 2023

Between 1815 and 1822 Rossini was in the midst of his Neapolitan adventure, invited by Domenico Barbaja to present his works at the most prestigious musical venue in Italy, the Teatro San Carlo. During these seven years, however, the composer did not lose contact with the rest of Italy and continued to write operas for Milan, Venice and Rome, the context in which Adelaide di Borgogna was born, the only serious work of the period to be destined for the city.

The librettist Giovanni Schmidt, who had already written Elisabetta regina d'Inghilterra and Armida for Rossini, drew the subject of the opera from a historical event of the early Middle Ages: the end of the independent Italic kingdom and the birth of the Holy Roman Germanic Empire by Otto I of Saxony, thanks in part to his marriage to Adelaide of Burgundy, widow of the Italic king Lothar II and therefore queen consort.

The opera was commissioned by the impresario Pietro Cartoni at the beginning of October 1817, but the composer did not begin work on it immediately, as he was busy with the production of Armida, which was to be performed at the San Carlo on the following 9th November. Rossini arrived in Rome between the 7th and 8th of December and Adelaide was composed in a very short time between Naples and Rome, so that it could be performed for the first time "nel Nobil Teatro a Torre Argentina" in Rome on the evening of Saturday 27th December 1817, inaugurating the 1818 Carnival season.

It has been revived only a few times in modern times, and the first performance in stage form was at the ROF in 2011, directed by Dmitri Jurowski, with direction, sets, costumes, video project and lighting by Pier'Alli, on the occasion of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy.