The Turk in Italy


The Turk in Italy

Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

From Italy's greatest master of laughs comes a riotous comedy with a knockout score. 

It skips and sparkles from the gruffest of bass notes to the impossibly high reaches of Stacey Alleaume's coloratura.

Andrea Molino leads a cracking team of comic talents, including Paolo Bordogna in his side-splitting performance as the Turk. Simon Phillips' playful production wrings every last laugh from Rossini's ridiculous romp.

Gabriela Tylesova's gelato-coloured costumes and clever, cartoonish sets are stars in their own right: a candied cherry on top of this rather outrageous ice-cream sundae.

“It's just about as much fun as you can have in an opera house,” said Phillips, and the critics agreed.


She’s flirtatious, audacious and unspeakably bored.

He’s geriatric, sycophantic and easily ignored.

Add a handsome prince,

A gypsy minx,

And a poet in need of a plot.

Put this classic Rossini

In vintage bikinis

and a rollicking good time we’ve got!

Conductor Andrea Molino
Director Simon Phillips
Revival Director Andy Morton
Set & Costume Designer Gabriela Tylesova
Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper
Dance Coordinator Sally Hare
Fiorilla Stacey Alleaume
Narciso Virgilio Marino
Geronio Warwick Fyfe
Selim Paolo Bordogna
Prosdocimo Samuel Dundas
Zaida Anna Dowsley
Albazar Graeme Macfarlane  (except 23 & 25 Aug)
  Nicholas Jones (23 & 25 Aug)

Opera Australia Chorus

Opera Australia Orchestra

Running time: approximately 2 hours & 50 minutes, including one interval.

The StoryHide

A poet with writer’s block is searching for inspiration as he writes his story. The flirtations and furies of his little seaside Italian town are boring him, but things heat up when a handsome Turkish prince arrives in town.

Suddenly, Fiorilla finds herself torn between her boring old husband Geronio, her jealous young lover Narciso and the mysterious, dashing young Turk.

The Turkish Selim has problems of his own: how can he choose between the vivacious Fiorilla and the sad-eyed gypsy girl he once loved?

Perhaps a costume ball will help sort things out? (Because that always works!)

Suddenly, the poet’s story is a romantic comedy with all the ingredients for success: love, jealousy and mistaken identities.

Not afraid of spoilers? Read the full synopsis.

The action takes place in and around Naples in the 18th century.

Act 1

By the sea shore near Naples

The poet Prosdocimo is searching for a plot for a drama buffo. He meets a band of gypsies, including the beautiful but unhappy Zaida and her confidant, Albazar. Perhaps the gypsies can provide some ideas? Prosdocimo's friend, the obstinate and sometimes foolish Geronio, is looking for a fortune teller to advise him on his marital problems, but the gypsies tease him. Zaida tells Prosdocimo that she is from a Turkish harem. She and her master, Prince Selim, were in love, but jealous rivals accused her of infidelity and she had to flee for her life, accompanied by Albazar. Nevertheless she still loves only one man and that man is Selim. Prosdocimo knows that a Turkish prince will shortly be arriving in Italy. Perhaps he can help? Geronio's capricious young wife Fiorilla enters, singing of the joys of free and unfettered love. A Turkish ship arrives and the prince disembarks. It is Selim himself. Fiorilla is immediately attracted to the handsome Turk, and a romance rapidly develops. Narciso appears in her pursuit. He is an ineffectual admirer of Fiorilla, posing as a friend of her husband. Geronio follows, horrified to learn that Fiorilla is taking the Turk home to drink his coffee!

Geronio's house

Fiorilla and Selim are flirting. Geronio enters timidly and Selim is initially impressed by his unexpected meekness, however Narciso noisily scolds Geronio. The domestic menage irritates Selim and he leaves after quietly arranging to meet Fiorilla again by his ship. Geronio tells Fiorilla he will not allow any more Turks — or Italians — in his house. She sweetly undermines his complaints, and then when he softens, threatens to punish him by enjoying herself even more wildly.

The sea shore at night

Selim is waiting for Fiorilla. Instead he meets Zaida. The former lovers are shocked and delighted, and declare once more their mutual love. Narciso reappears, followed by Fiorilla in disguise, with Geronio in pursuit. Selim confuses the veiled Fiorilla with Zaida and the two women come suddenly face to face. Fiorilla accuses Selim of betrayal. Zaida confronts Fiorilla. Geronio tells his wife to go home. There is a stormy finale.

Act 2

At an inn

Selim approaches Geronio amicably, offering to buy Fiorilla. That way Geronio can be rid of his problems and also make some money. Geronio refuses. Selim vows to steal her instead. After they leave, Fiorilla and a group of her friends appear, followed by Zaida. Fiorilla has set up a meeting between them and Selim, so that the Turk will be forced to decide between the two women. In the event he is indecisive, not wishing to lose either of them. Zaida leaves in disgust. Selim and Fiorilla quarrel but are eventually reconciled. As the poet tells Geronio, there is going to be a party. Fiorilla will be there to meet Selim, who will be masked. Geronio should also go — disguised as a Turk! Narciso overhears this, and decides to take advantage of the situation to take Fiorilla himself, in revenge for her former indifference. Geronio laments his destiny, that he should have such a terrible, crazy wife. Albazar passes by holding a costume — for Zaida!

A ballroom with masqueraders and dancers

Fiorilla mistakes Narciso for Selim and Narciso leads her away. Meanwhile Selim enters with Zaida, under the impression that she is Fiorilla. Geronio is in utter despair at finding two couples and two Fiorillas! Narciso and Selim both entreat their partners to leave with them. Confused and angry, Geronio attempts to stop both couples, but they eventually escape.

Back at the inn

Prosdocimo meets Geronio. They now know that Selim was with Zaida and guess that Fiorilla was with Narciso. Albazar confirms that Selim will definitely stay with Zaida. Prosdocimo advises Geronio to have his revenge on Fiorilla by pretending to divorce her and threatening to send her back to her family.

Having discovered Narciso's deception, Fiorilla tries to find Selim, but he has already left with Zaida. She returns home only to find the divorce letter, and her belongings being removed from the house. She is devastated by shame, and promptly deserted by her friends.

The beach

Selim and Zaida are about to set sail for Turkey, while Fiorilla is looking for a boat to take her back to her home town. Geronio finds and forgives her. They are affectionately reconciled. Both couples are now reunited and Prosdocimo is delighted with his happy ending.

“Phillips’ clever, joyous production buzzes with energy... The Turk in Italy is loads of fun and makes for an entertaining night at the opera.”

– Limelight

"This production has everything: costumes, set, choreography, singers, acting, orchestra and not forgetting the cheeky English translation."

– Mitzi (Killara, NSW)

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