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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Anderson    AN ELOQUENT PERFORMANCE

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At the start of Act 2 the Princess is anxiously awaiting Maurizio, on tenterhooks lest he fail her [watch and listen -- 'Acerba volutta, dolce totura' (Act 2), chapter 11, 38:52-40:00]. He turns up, but she immediately notices the violets (they gradually become a main character) and suspects another woman. Maurizio sensibly gives her the flowers. Adriana has been invited to the villa by the Prince, who imagines Maurizio is there with the diva's great actress rival rather than his own wife. The Princess must therefore disappear, so that till almost the end of the act she is closeted off. Maurizio persuades Adriana to rescue the unknown woman in secret hiding. This will be effected through a concealed door into the garden. But before the Princess is through it, she has dropped her bracelet, and the women are aghast at the discovery they both love Maurizio [watch and listen -- 'E sia!' (Act 2), chapter 18, 65:58-67:16].

Adriana (Joan Sutherland, right) shows the bracelet to The Princess of Bouillon (Heather Begg) in Act 2. DVD screenshot © Opus Arte
Adriana (Joan Sutherland, right) shows the bracelet to The Princess of Bouillon (Heather Begg) in Act 2. DVD screenshot © Opus Arte

Most performances (this too) omit the Prince of Bouillon's casual explanation near the start of Act 3 that in some idle chemical experiments he has discovered a powder that will cause delirium and death. Adriana is an honoured guest at the Bouillon reception. The Princess realises Adriana is the rival who allowed her garden escape. She now pretends Maurizio has been wounded unto death in a duel, so that Adriana obligingly faints. When Adriana produces the incriminating bracelet, the women are at open warfare [watch and listen -- 'È quella dama al certo!' (Act 3), chapter 23, 92:23-93:40]. The Act 4 sequel is easily forecast: the Princess will send, as if a faded reminder from Maurizio, the now powdered violets to Adriana on her birthday, and she regretfully expires [watch and listen -- 'Che? Tu tremi' (Act 4), chapter 32, 127:00-128:08].

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Copyright © 19 April 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK

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