Simone Mayr: Ginevra di Scozia

Mayr cover of critical edition

Edited by Hans Schellevis

Dramma eroico per musica
Libretto: Gaetano Rossi (in Italian)
World premiere: 21.4.1801, Triest 


Ginevra, the daughter of the Scottish king, and the Italian knight Ariodante, are in love. While Ariodante is at war fighting for Scotland, Grand Constable of the Empire Polinesso tries in vain to win Ginevra. Out of jealousy and revenge, he plans the undoing of the two lovers. He persuades Dalinda, one of the ladies in waiting, to meet in the princess’ room on condition that she appear on the balcony clad in the princess’ clothing and throw a rope ladder down to him. Ariodante sees what is happening, and convinced of Ginevra’s infidelity, throws himself into the river but is saved by a hermit on the opposite bank. He learns that Ginevra has been accused of adultery and is to be put to death. Ariodante resolves to save her and to defeat her accuser Polinesso, who remorsefully confesses his interest. Ariodante receives Ginevra’s hand as a reward.


The Teatro Nuovo in Trieste was opened ceremoniously on April 21, 1801 with the opera Ginevra di Scozia. Numerous reports document the reception of Mayr’s much-loved opera at both large and smaller theatres throughout Europe in the first half of the 19th Century. There was already a performance in Vienna on October 27, 1801, with alterations and additions by Joseph Weigl. Such editing practices were typical of adaptation and marketing strategies of the time in opera houses during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Although the part of Ariodante became a popular breeches role over the centuries, it continued to be filled by castrati, as in early 1807 in Pisa.

Critical Edition

  • The autograph itself is lost, and the present edition is based on a manuscript copy preserved in Vienna that was unknown until 20 years ago. There is little doubt that this copy – consisting of the score and orchestral parts – is as close as possible to Mayr’s 1801 original.
  • The opera was admired by Rossini. His Tancredi (premiered in 1813) shows striking similarities to Ginevra in its structure and instrumentation.
  • Because of its small setting (the Trieste premiere took place with an orchestra of only 21 players), the opera is particularly well-suited to performance in smaller venues.

Recommendations for concert

Sinfonia - - timp - str

1st Act No. 6 Aria Lurcanio Ah! Dov’ è quell’alma audace
T - - - timp - str 

1st Act No. 7 Duet Ariodante and Polinesso Oddio! Qual gel mi scende al cor!
Ms.T - - - str 
2nd Act No. 11 Gran Scena Ariodante Ove son io?
Ms - Chr - - - str