Simone Mayr: Belle ciarle e tristi fatti

Mayr cover of critical edition

Edited by Anders Wiklund

Dramma Giocoso 
Libretto: Angelo Anelli (in Italian)
World premiere: 6.11.1807, Venice

“Belle ciarle e tristi fatti / Son di moda ai nostri tempi” ("Sweet words, bitter facts / are fashionable in these times")
—from the last scene


Don Ciccio does not want to give his daughter Dorina the inheritance left by her mother from his first marriage, instead hoping to become rich by marrying her to suitor she does not know. A quarrel flares up between the two, which only the servant Marianna is able to reconcile with the suggestion that they turn to a lawyer to deal with the situation. She names Dorina’s lover Medoro who, disguised as a lawyer, wants to settle the matter in their favour. He tells the chosen bridegroom, Graf Meo, that the avaricious Cicco refuses to pay the maternal dowry and wants to deceive him too. He disguises his daughter as a maidservant to prevent her kidnapping, pretending instead that Marianna is his daughter. Meo then presents himself to Marianna as her bridegroom. What ensues is a turbulent, confused comedy that – quite in the style of an opera buffe scene ultima – resolves only at its ending, with Meo gone, the lovers united, and Cicco with the dowry.


It was likely in April 1807 that Belle ciarle e tristi fatti, based on Angelo Anelli’s libretto, was commissioned for the upcoming autumn season at La Fenice. With a Venetian atmosphere, the music and text are particularly captivating in the “Cantò de’ Barcoriuoli.” Mayr takes up this lively Venetian tradition. Likewise striking in the opera more widely is the inclusion of a male choir, due not least to the martial zeitgeist and the performance practice at Theater La Fenice during that period. The opera was performed at La Scala, Milan on May 18, 1813. Theatre director Gateano Melzi had turned to Mayr for help when an opera by Pietro Carlo Guglielmi that had been planned for the season was met with audience disapproval and had to be cancelled.

Critical Edition

  • This is the first publication of the opera as a critical edition based on the autograph of the full score from the Archivio Storico Ricordi, Milan. Supplementary material is provided from a contemporary copy from the Staatsbibliothek Berlin.
  • The normal two-horn setting is expanded with a third solo horn.
  • The opera’s Venetian setting is best reflected in No. 5 Sortita di Conte, in which the gondoliers sing in the Venetian dialect with the song of the people in homage to the city and tradition.

Recommendations for concert

Sinfonia - - timp - str

1st Act No. 2 Cavatina of Marianna Ah, che fate?
S - - - str

1st Act No. 5 Exit Conte with Choir Roma superba…
Bar - Chr - - - str 
1st Act No. 8 Aria of Donna Chiara Mi perdona caro sposo…
Ms - - - str 

1st Act No. 9 Aria of Don Ciccio Da Notari, e da Periti…
Bar - - - str