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Lo sposo deluso

Lo sposo deluso
Opera buffa fragment by W. A. Mozart
The composer, drawing by Doris Stock, 1789
TranslationThe Deluded Bridegroom
Librettistunknown poet
Based onlibretto for Cimarosa's Le donne rivali

Lo sposo deluso, ossia La rivalità di tre donne per un solo amante (The Deluded Bridegroom, or The Rivalry of Three Women for One Lover) is a two-act opera buffa, K. 430, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart between 1783 and 1784.[1] However, the opera was never completed and only a 20-minute fragment from act 1 exists.

Performance history

Mozart had originally planned to have the opera performed by a seven-member Italian troupe in Vienna. Although it was once thought that Lorenzo Da Ponte might have been the author of the libretto, scholarship by Alessandra Campana has established that the libretto was written by an unknown Italian poet for Domenico Cimarosa's opera Le donne rivali, which he composed for the Rome carnival season of 1780.[2] According to Neal Zaslaw, Cimarosa's librettist may have been Giuseppe Petrosellini, the house poet of the Teatro Valle where Le donne rivali premiered. (Petrosellini was also the probable librettist of Mozart's earlier opera La finta giardiniera).[3] For Lo sposo deluso, Mozart had the characters in Le donne rivali expanded from five to seven, renamed the original five, and established the cast of singers for whom he would be writing.[4] It is unclear why he abandoned the work, although Zaslaw has proposed that it was a combination of the difficulties presented by re-writing and adapting the libretto for the Viennese audience and the fact that in 1785, Da Ponte had finally come through with the libretto for Le nozze di Figaro.[5]

The first known performance of material from Lo sposo deluso dates from 15 November 1797, six years after Mozart's death. Mozart's widow, Constanze, arranged for the overture and opening quartet to be performed at the Estates Theatre in Prague during a concert highlighting the musical debut of their youngest son, Franz Xaver Mozart.[6]

In 1991, the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death, Opera North premièred The Jewel Box, a pasticcio opera devised by Paul Griffiths. This used the existing pieces from Lo sposo deluso and L'oca del Cairo as well as arias written by Mozart for insertion into operas by Anfossi, Piccini and Cimarosa, among others. (The programme was an imagined reconstruction of a 1783 pantomime in which Mozart and Aloysia Weber are said to have taken part.)

In 2006, the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, the fragment of Lo sposo deluso received several performances, including:

  • Bampton Classical Opera's revival of The Jewel Box.
  • The Salzburg Festival's double bill of Lo sposo deluso and L'oca del Cairo, and other arias written by Mozart in a programme titled Rex tremendus, conceived and staged by Joachim Schlöme with the Camerata Salzburg conducted by Michael Hofstetter. (This performance is preserved on DVD, see Recordings)


Note that the opera was unfinished and never premiered as such. The singers' names given in the table below are those for whom Mozart wrote the roles and who were to have sung in its premiere.

Roles, voice types, potential premiere cast
Role Voice type Intended cast
Bocconio Papparelli, a rich but stupid man, betrothed to Eugenia bass Francesco Benucci
Eugenia, a young Roman noblewoman, betrothed to Papparelli but in love with Don Asdrubale soprano Nancy Storace
Don Asdrubale, a Tuscan army officer tenor Stefano Mandini
Bettina, Papparelli's vain young niece, also in love with Don Asdrubale soprano Katherina Cavalieri
Pulcherio, the misogynist friend of Papparelli tenor Francesco Bussani
Gervasio, Eugenia's tutor, in love with Metilde bass Signore Pugnetti
Metilde, a virtuoso singer and dancer and friend of Bettina, also in love with Don Asdrubale soprano Therese Teyber

The setting is a seaside villa near Livorno.

The cast is nearly identical to that of the first Le nozze di Figaro. Benucci was the first Figaro. Storace the first Susanna. Mandini the first Count Almaviva, and Bussani the first Bartolo. Both Mandini and Bussani started as tenors but by this time they were a baritone and a bass respectively.

Existing pieces from the opera

  • Overtura – an upbeat, presto instrumental piece which develops into a more lethargic pensive mood
  • Quartetto – "Ah, ah che ridere" (Pulcherio, Papparelli, Bettina, Don Asdrubale)
  • Aria (fragment) – "Nacqui all'aria trionfale" (Eugenia)
  • Aria (fragment) – "Dove mai trovar quel ciglio?" (Pulcherio)
  • Terzetto – "Che accidenti" (Papparelli, Don Asdrubale, Eugenia)




  1. ^ Anderson (1937)
  2. ^ Campana (1988–89) cited in Dell Antonio (1996) pp. 404–405
  3. ^ Zaslaw (1996) p. 415
  4. ^ Zaslaw (1996) 415–416
  5. ^ Zaslaw (1996)
  6. ^ Landon (1988) 187


  • Anderson, Emily, "An Unpublished Letter of Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart", Music & Letters (Vol. 18, No. 2, April 1937), pp. 128–133
  • Campana, Alessandra, "Il libretto de Lo sposo deluso", Mozart-Jahrbuch (1988–89), pp. 573–588.
  • Dell Antonio, Andrew, "Il Compositore Deluso: The Fragments of Mozart's Comic Opera Lo sposo deluso (K424a/430)" in Stanley Sadie, (ed.) Wolfgang Amadé Mozart: Essays on His Life and Work, (1996) London: Oxford University Press.
  • Zaslaw, Neal, "Waiting for Figaro" in Stanley Sadie, (ed.) Wolfgang Amadé Mozart: Essays on His Life and Work, (1996) London: Oxford University Press.
  • H. C. Robbins Landon, "1791: Mozart's Last Year", (1988) New York: Schirmer Books.

Further reading

  • W. A. Mozart, Lo sposo deluso, K. 430 – Complete reconstruction by Mario-Giuseppe Genesi in three volumes – I: piano vocal, II: conductor's score, III: 23 orchestral single instrumental parts; Piacenza, P. M. Ed., 2009, (score held by Salzburg Mozarteum). This extensive reconstruction includes 62 numbers equally subdivided in recitatives, a quartet, two finali d' atto, single arias, some terzetti and only one duetto. Genesi's not yet staged reconstruction includes also a couple of basset horns introduced in the Mozart style, whilst most of the music is Mozart's original drawn one from the less-known vocal production.
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Lo sposo deluso
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