Libretto by the composer and Mira Mendelson, after the play The Duenna by Richard Brinsley Sheridan
•First performance in Russia (USSR): 3 November 1946, Kirov Opera, Leningrad (St Petersburg);
In 18th-century Seville Don Jerome arranges to marry
his daughter Louisa to Mendoza, an ugly but very rich old fish merchant who has
not seen the girl but is enthusiastic. He hears the penniless Antonio serenading
Louisa and vows that the wedding must take place soon.
Louise´s duenna hatches a plan that will allow Louisa to marry
Antonio and herself to snare Mendoza and his money: Don Jerome must believe that
the duenna is acting as a go-between for the lovers; he will then dismiss her
but Louisa will put on the duenna´s clothes, escape and elope with Antonio. The
duenna, disguised as Louisa, will marry Mendoza instead. Having escaped, Louisa
comes across her friend Clara who, feigning distress at her lover´s over-ardent
behavior (her lover is Louisa´s brother Ferdinand), has decided to take refuge
in a monastery. Disguised, this time as Clara, Louisa enlists Mendoza´s help in
finding Antonio – the merchant is only too pleased to divert his rival´s
attentions away from Louisa (as he thinks). At Don Jerome´s house Mendoza meets
"Louisa" (the duenna); he is won over by her flattery and the couple plan to
Antonio meets the real Louisa and Mendoza, still ignorant of
her identity, smiles on young love. Don Jerome, interrupted in his amateur music
making, unwittingly blesses the separate marriages of Louisa and Mendoza. At the
concert Clara pines for Ferdinand.
A visit from Mendoza and
Antonio interrupts the alcoholic revelry of the monks at the monastery.
Ferdinand also arrives and, believing that Antonio is about to marry Clara,
stars a fight. Confusions are resolved and the monks bless all three marriages.
At the wedding ball planned for Louisa, Don Jerome learns of the turn of events
and is eventually reconciled to them; his daughter has married a pauper, but
Ferdinand has married an heiress.