Italiana in Algeri, L’ (The Italian Girl in Algiers)
  • Gioachino Rossini. Dramma giocoso in two acts. 1813.
  • Libretto based on a libretto by Angelo Anelli.
  • First performance at the Teatro S Benedetto, Venice, on 22nd May 1813.
CHARACTERS
Mustafa, Bey of Algiers bass
Elvira, his wife soprano
Zulma, her confidante contralto
Haly, Captain of the Algerian corsairs bass
Lindoro, young Italian, a favourite slave of the Bey tenor
Isabella, an Italian, loved by Lindoro contralto
Taddeo, her elderly companion baritone

The Bey wishes to rid himself of his wife Elvira, planning to marry her off to Lindoro, and bids Haly find him an Italian girl. Lindoro, meanwhile, is in love with Isabella, who is taken prisoner by Haly, with her companion Taddeo, who now pretends to be her uncle. Lindoro is offered his freedom to return to Italy, if he will take Elvira with him. Isabella and Lindoro recognise each other, and she refuses the advances of the Bey, demanding that Lindoro, as an Italian, should be ordered to stay with her. The Bey tries to persuade Isabella to accept him, promoting Taddeo to a high court position, but Isabella uses trickery, notably the invention of a ceremony of the Order of Pappatici, to which the Bey may be admitted, if he can pass the test of silence. The ceremony is used as a cover for the escape of Isabella and Lindoro, who are finally forgiven by the Bey, now reconciled to his wife, admitting that he has been outwitted by the Italian girl.

The opera, which retains a firm place in international operatic repertoire, has a lively overture. In his first-act cavatina Lindoro expresses his distress at having been parted from his Isabella, Languir per una bella (To languish for a fair one). She laments her fate in Cruda sorte (Cruel lot), while the comic figure Taddeo has some reservations about his official appointment in Viva il grande Kaimakan (Long live the grand Kaymakam) and Ho un gran peso (I have a great weight), a complaint about his official headgear. The escape planned by Isabella allows her to command the support of Italian captives in Pensa alla patria (Think of your own country).