Comic operas in one act, in Italian, with Hungarian and English surtitles
The Italian composer Giampaolo Testoni wrote the librettos for his own one-act operas Fortunio and Fantasio, which are being paired together, based on the plays of the French Romantic dramatist Alfred de Musset.
In the royal court, the young idler Fantasio dons the costume of the deceased court jester whom the Princess had loved so much. The youth’s aim is to achieve his life’s sole objective: for someone to love him too. Fantasio unfolds in the borderlands between the worlds of the imagination and reality: sometimes it is nearly impossible to decide what is fantasy and what is actually happening. On the stage of his imaginary world, the title character himself is attempting to be something different from what he is in real life, something that is indicated not only by his disguise, but by the fact that the composer wrote his part for a female voice.
The young student Fortunio puts on a disguise in order to help his master’s wife hide the fact that she is meeting another man – and in the process of doing so, the bored title character, who has so far lived a life of apathy, himself discovers the beauty of love. The events of Fortunio fluctuate thrillingly between a dream world and reality and, as with the latter piece, are acted out by only a few singers accompanied by a small chamber orchestra. This musical comedy depicts a world of love and illusions in which the main characters don disguises, leading to a whole series of charades and misunderstanding – both humorous and spiteful – arising from the false appearances and deceptions.
The King informs his secretary Rutten that he is giving the hand of his daughter Elisabetta to a foreign Prince whose arrival is expected soon.
Andrea, the jealous notary bombards his wife Giacometta with questions after finding out she had entertained a male visitor. Although the woman denies it, her lover Clavaroche emerges from his hiding place in the closet after her husband leaves. The man is of the opinion that the solution to such difficult situations is to employ a “chandelier” who will help hide their romantic rendezvous.
Landry, the student working at the notary’s offices, informs his friends Guglielmo and Fortunio of the mysterious man who has visited Giacometta in secret. It turns out Fortunio is in love with Giacometta.
In their garden, Giacometta is talking to the gardener Pietro and waiting for him to leave so she can ask Maddalena, the servant girl, who the three young men in the notary’s offices are. She wants to know if any would be suitable for playing the “chandelier” role. Maddalena tells her that the gentle Fortunio is assumed to be in love with Giacometta. The servant girl then sings the love song that she had heard from the boy himself, which is clear proof of the love he feels for the woman of the house. Giacometta is now sure that Fortunio will be right for the job.
We find ourselves in the dining room of the notary’s house, with the table set for dinner. Landry and Guglielmo know that Fortunio has received an invitation, and they jest that he is always at the notary’s house and follows his wife around.
Clavaroche and Giacometta enter the dining room. Clavaroche, who has won the woman’s favour, laughingly asks Giacometta how she managed to convince Fortunio to play the part of “chandelier”. That is when Andrea and Fortunio enter. Clavaroche, who does not yet know the boy, introduces himself, after which the notary sings a pitiful little song that he had composed for their wedding, and he and Giacometta ask Fortunio to sing a song as well. Giacometta is entranced by the lyrics to Fortunio’s song, and she is barely able to conceal the fact that she is starting to have feelings for the boy. Clavaroche is angered by Giacometta’s interest in Fortunio. He calls upon Giacometta to send the boy away and get rid of the “chandelier” who has now become unnecessary since he and the notary have become friends. Fortunio, hiding behind a curtain, hears the entire conversation. When Giacometta is left alone, Fortunio appears from behind the curtain, professes his love as well as his despair that the woman had merely used him as a tool. Giacometta is unsettled by Fortunio’s words and she tells the young man that she had never wanted to hurt him. The love that blooms between them now takes the form of a gentle kiss. Fortunio bids farewell to Giacometta, who is left holding the lyrics to Fortunio’s love song to her chest. From outside, we hear the tipsy sound of the notary as he again sings the unpleasant song he had written for their wedding