Gaetano Donizetti: Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali

Donizetti Critical Edition

Edited by Roger Parker, Anders Wiklund (2002)

Two-volume set: score + critical commentary pp. I-XXXII, 1-419 / 421-669
NR 136792
Piano vocal score available
CP 136795

Few operas have as complex a history as Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali, which seems to have almost as many versions as it has manuscripts that carry its text and revivals that have recreated it in performance. This is partly due to its subject matter and plot: as an opera about an opera, very loosely structured and with plenty of opportunity for principals to play “themselves”, the work encouraged local variants from the start.

Another important factor is the generic nature of its original version. Le convenienze started life as a one-act Neapolitan farsa with spoken dialogue, some of it in the local dialect. It was a type of opera that did not travel well to all parts of Italy; adjustments were invariably made when the work moved north. To add to this, Donizetti himself returned to the opera, probably at least twice, on both occasions making important additions. Lastly, many revivals were in the form of a full scale opera, and so with the addition of secco recitative and a considerable range of further authentic and non-authentic variants.

In this context, it is small wonder that important sources are scattered all over Western Europe; also that a few vital documents remain missing to this day. However, a number of recent discoveries have clarified many of the questions surrounding the opera, and made possible the publication of this new, critical edition.

After being premiered at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples on 21 November 1827, the opera was revived in Milan at the Teatro della Canobbiana in April 1831. It was extensively modified for this production, but not by the composer, who instead carried out a revision for the revival in Naples at the Teatro del Fondo in the same year.

The critical edition provides as the principal text the music Donizetti prepared for the production in Naples in 1831, the only version of the opera that can be reconstructed reliably. Nonetheless, in the appendices it furnishes all the materials necessary to reconstruct the first version of the opera (Naples 1827), accompanied by instructions about how to correctly insert these into the body of the principal text. In contrast, given that Donizetti almost certainly did not play any role in the 1831 revival in Milan – it is known that the composer was in Naples in the period in question – the edition does not include any of the musical sections ascribable to that version.

In general, the critical edition does not limit itself to providing the base text of the only version that can be reliably traced back to and reconstructed from Donizetti’s actual work, i.e. the version that was staged in Naples in 1831, but offers in addition a wide range of materials that reflect the extreme dynamism that has characterised the history and tradition of this opera text.