La cambiale di matrimonio, Opera by G. Rossini
La cambiale di matrimonio (The Marriage Contract) is a farce in one act by Gioachino Rossini with libretto by Gaetano Rossi, based on the homonymous work by the playwright Camillo Federici, as well as on the libretto by Giuseppe Checcherini for the opera Il matrimonio per lettera de cambio (1807) by Carlo Coccia.
It was successfully premiered on 3 November 1810 at the Teatro San Moisè in Venice. This time, it is presented in the same city but at the Gran Teatro La Fenice. The Marriage Contract was the first of Rossini’s operas to be performed, because although he had started to write Demetrio e Polibio in 1806, it was not performed until 1812. It is worth mentioning that Rossini wrote this opera in just several days, when he was only 18 years of age.
Although the typically entangled plot of this parody reflects the tastes of the time, Rossini’s music in this opera put an end to the refined Neapolitan style and thus inaugurated the Rossinian era. The Swan of Pesaro (Rossini’s nickname for bringing such recognition to his city) wrote a number of ensembles in this farce, but only four solos. As he would go on to do in other operas, the composer directs the story via a series of duets, trios and ensembles, performed by six singers in total and accompanied by chamber orchestra. It is worth pointing out the duet for tenor and soprano Tornami a dir che m'ami, which would later inspire other composers. Fanny’s aria is also noteworthy for its tempo changes, and it later became the basis for the duet Dunque io son, sung by Figaro and Rosina in The Barber of Seville.
For a time this opera was largely forgotten, in part due to what Wagner described as “a lack of knowledge and interest in past glories that could only be evaluated with the historical revision of a better society”.
The story unfolds in an English city in the 18th century. It revolves around a merchant who seeks to marry his daughter Fanny to a Canadian businessman, after receiving a blank marriage contract from the latter. But neither Fanny nor Edward Milfort, the man she loves, are prepared to accept the plan.