Gaetano Donizetti

IL CAMPANELLO – Lázár Ervin Programme, MVM Piccolo Programme

mixed opera 10

In Brief

Comic opera in one act, in Hungarian, with Hungarian surtitles

Performance length: , without intermissions
What to do when the bell rings in the middle of an amorous encounter at night? And then it rings again, and again, and again? Gaetano Donizetti presents this awkward situation with his typical intricate sense of humour, and shows us how an unwanted husband can be kept away from his marriage bed with the help of some cunning and disguise. Donizetti’s comic opera Il campanello was created in an especially difficult period for the Teatro Nuovo theatre in Naples. It was premiered in 1836, when the composer – and in this case librettist – wanted to help the director and artists of the theatre with the problems caused by the cholera epidemic and financial difficulties. His efforts were successful, and his new work became incredibly popular across Europe in an instant. There were some changes made to the piece over the years, for example the originally spoken dialogues were turned into recitatives, and the Neapolitan dialect of the buffo character that carried a strong comic effect was “translated” into Italian with the permission of the composer. The production now played at the Eiffel Art Studios is staged by Attila Toronykőy.


Neapolitan chemist Don Annibale is being wed to the lovely Serafina, but he needs to hurry through the nuptials, since he has to wake up at dawn in order to head for Rome in an important matter. Enrico, Serafina's previous lover, resolves that he will win the woman back. He delivers a toast to the newly-weds, and then departs with the rest of the wedding guests. Dressed in a nightgown and nightcap, Annibale is getting ready to fulfil his conjugal duties, when someone rings the bell in the chemist's shop. It's the disguised Enrico passing himself off as a French dandy who needs wine to medicate his stomach, which he has overtaxed at the ball. While Annibale fetches the wine, Enrico rearranges all the furniture and turns off the lights. Just when the chemist, with great difficulty, has almost found his way back to bed, the bell rings again. It's Enrico again: this time he's disguised as a singer who has to perform the next day, except he's lost his voice. The medicine restores his voice, and he sets about practising his role in the chemist's shop. When the "singer" finally departs, Annibale receives a message warning him that some kind of terrible act of vengeance is going to take place. The apothecary takes the warning serious, and instructs his servant Spiridione to set up a makeshift trap. The bell rings again – Enrico, now dressed as an old man, produces a long list of medicines needed to treat his "wife's" snivelling. At last, Annibale shows the inopportune visitor the door and is about to rush to his wife's side when he stumbles into the trap that has been set. The bell rings again. It's Enrico again, now without a disguise: he smugly reminds the chemist that it's time for him to leave for Rome. Annibale is forced to postpone his wedding night and departs for the capital. Enrico promises to substitute for him while he's gone...


"The story of this opera also appeals to young audiences, and the creators didn't even leave chance to chance."

Emese Lengyel, Magyar Nemzet