Giacomo Meyerbeer: Margherita d’Anjou

Zemlinksy Es war Einmal Critical Edition by Ricordi

Edited by Paolo A. Rossini and Peter Kaiser

Melodramma semiserio in due atti
Libretto: Felice Romani (in Italian)
World premiere: 14.11.1820, Milan

“He writes superbly for the voice. So that's really amazing with such a young composer, he writes great cadenzas and wonderful cabalettes, it's really very rewarding for singers.”
—Fabio Luisi


Margherita has fled to France from the Duke of Glocester after the death of her husband, King Henry IV. From there, Duke Lavarenne, who is in love with Margherita, plans an attack on Glocester with his army. Lavarenne is unaware that his wife Isaura has joined his army disguised as a male assistant to the physician Gamautte. The army loses the battle in the Scottish mountains where Margherita is hiding along with her son Edoardo, Lavarenne, and Gaumatte. They are subsequently discovered and arrested. Belmonte, in Glocester’s service, recognizes his former queen, swears allegiance to her again, and offers her shelter in his house as Glocester and Lavarenne prepare to engage once more in battle. Glocester discovers Margherita and takes her son hostage. As the French army celebrates its victory, Isaura reveals herself. Varenne begs for forgiveness. Margherita can live in her homeland once again.


Meyerbeer's fourth and so-far most successful Italian opera belongs to the mixed genre of opera semiseria. It also begins with an "Introduzione alla Meyerbeer," except that this time the appearance of the protagonist Margherita is at the center of a picturesque genre scene (military camp). For the first time, this also includes a stage orchestra (banda), which moves gradually closer and thus makes the scene tangible as a "sound space." The same applies to the Finale I, whose structure is finely detailed. In the arias and ensembles, and sporadically in the choruses too, a tone of casual elegance and ironic brokenness can be perceived which serves as a prelude to Meyerbeer’s French operas. The trio of Carlo, Gloster, and Michele from Act 2 provides a direct link to this (Pensa, e guarda. Amico all’erta!).

Critical edition

  • An autograph is missing, with the main source being the transcript from the 1822 Munich production that was based on it.
  • There are numerous notes an all aspects of the score: from vocal and instrumental parts, to interpretive indications that offer a perspective that the musical notation could never denote.
  • The original draft was considered wherever a complete reconstruction was possible. Where needed, additional staves or signs were used in the secondary body or appendix.
  • Variants and cadenzas from printed editions from the same period are also made available as they bear witness to the performance practice of the time.

Recommendations for concert

Sinfonia militare
picc. - 4.2.3.serp - timp.perc - str 

1st Act No. 2 Duo Isaura, Michele Ah tu non sai quant‘io l’adoro
S.B - picc. - - str 

2nd Act No. 7 Margherita Dolci alberghi di pace
S - - - str (solo vl) 

2nd Act No. 9 Trio, Carlo, Glocester, Michele Pensa, e guarda. Amico all’erta!
3B - - - timp - str