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GESUALDO. Opera in 7 tableaus, a prologue and
an epilogue

Composer: Schnittke, Alfred
Lyricists: Bletschacher, Richard
Playing time: 135:00
Opus/Year: (1993)
Genre: Opera
Instrumentation: 3 S, 2 MS, 2 A, 2 CounterT, 4 T, 3 Bar, 4 B, stumme Rolle 3(Picc,AFl),3(EnglHorn),3(Es-Klar,BKlar),3(KFag) 4,3,3,1 5 Schl (Pk, Bongos, kl.Tr, gr.Tr, Bk, 2 Tam-t, RhrenGl, Glsp, Vibr, Marimba), Mandoline, Git, Theorbe, Harfe, Cel, Cemb, Org, Streicher
Premiere performance: 26.06.1995 / D


Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, in accordance with the wishes of the family council, marries his cousin Maria dAvalos, a young, lively woman who has already survived two husbands. Carlo, the gloomy dreamer, is completely devoted to music as a lutenist and composer apart from that, he is only interested in hunting and the construction work on his castle in Gesualdo. At the spring festivities of the Viceroy of Naples, Maria falls in love with the brother of her first husband, the Duke of Andria, Fabrizio Caraffa, who is married to Donna Maddalena, Princess of Stigliano.
The quickly inflamed passion of the two is discovered. Don Carlo sees himself forced by public opinion to restore the honour of his house. He tries to evade the decision by causing a hunting accident. Maria und Fabrizio have also been warned. They can only communicate through letters now. Fabrizio requests separation to save Marias life. But she insists on openly owning up to her love and requests that he come to her. Don Carlo tries in vain to find solace in music. Maria awaits her lover at the Palazzo San Severo. Don Carlo has pretended to ride out to the hunt and is now awaiting his victim in the house. The lovers meet for the last time. They look for and find their death through Gesualdos hired murderer. Silvana, Donna Marias chamber maid, flees with the child of her murdered mistress in shock. As the Cardinal and Viceroy find out about the horrible act, innocent people who knew about it are forced to confess. The Prince has left Naples, however, in order to hide at his Gesualdo Castle. Donna Sveva dAvalos laments the death of her daughter. Donna Maddalena Caraffa dons clothes of mourning. Don Carlo does penance in Gesualdo. He allows himself to be whipped by his accomplices in the murder, while the monks sing De profundis in his chapel. The incessant crying of the child, however, prevents the desperate man from finding peace. He believes that he recognises the features of Fabrizio Caraffa in the child. He does not believe Silvanas assurance that it is his own child, and he finally rocks it to death.

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In printed editions:

Schnittke, Alfred
  • Gesualdo
    Opera in 7 scenes, a prologue and an epilogue. Libretto
    Edition no.: SIK4/5601
    Edition: Libretto
    Price: € 3,50 incl. VAT plus delivery