Ponchielli's most famous opera whisks the audience back to the magical, but at the same time, dangerous Venetian Republic of the 17th century. The piece's protagonist is a street singer named Gioconda. In spite of her name, which means “the jovial one”, her life takes a tragic turn owing to the intrigues of a diabolically evil figure who is hopelessly in love with her.
Ponchielli and Boito employ nearly every available trope of grand opéra: the carnival masquerade, the love triangle, unexpected twists, poison, a blind woman denounced as a witch, stirring crowd scenes – and dance: the best-known part of the opera is the ballet interlude the Dance of the Hours.
This work in the style of French and Italian grand opera premiered at the Erkel Theatre in a production directed by András Almási-Tóth.