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A mountain storm rages outside the modest inn where Don Parmenione (Natale de Carolis) and Alessandro Corbelli as his servant Martino are severally enjoying an ample wine-graced meal and trembling at the antics of the elements. A suitcase is perched on the bench that separates them [watch and listen -- chapter 3, 8:11-9:42]. A new arrival, soaked to the skin, is Robert Gambill's Count Alberto, on his way to Naples and a fiancée he has not yet seen. There are now two similar suitcases on the bench [watch and listen -- chapter 4, 11:25-12:53]. So far only pleasantries and comments on the appalling weather are exchanged.

Natale de Carolis as Don Parmenione (left) and Robert Gambill as Count Alberto in Rossini's 'L'occasione fa il ladro'. Screenshot © 1992 Schwetzinger Festspiele/SWR/Maran Film GmbH/NVC Arts International
Natale de Carolis as Don Parmenione (left) and Robert Gambill as Count Alberto in Rossini's 'L'occasione fa il ladro'. Screenshot © 1992 Schwetzinger Festspiele/SWR/Maran Film GmbH/NVC Arts International

Alberto decides to press on towards Naples, leaving but one suitcase behind. This turns out to Parmenione's unqualified delight, as a hasty error has put him in possession, not of his own dirty laundry, but of an ample money supply, a valid passport as the Count and the ravishing portrait of an enchanting girl he naturally assumes to be the fiancée. Decision for Naples is instantaneous, as Parmenione must get there first. Meanwhile the future bride, Berenice (Susan Patterson) is sufficiently apprehensive about the impending marriage to swap clothes with Monica Bacelli as her maid Ernestina. She can thus assess Alberto from a safe distance.

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Copyright © 28 June 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK

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