Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Il turco in Italia. It was last on stage 11–27 April 2015 as part of the Spring 2014/15 season.
Insatiable flirt Fiorilla is bored to death of her husband Geronio. When she encounters the dashing Turk Selim she decides to fall in love – much to the chagrin of her current toy boy, Narciso. The poet Prosdocimo watches their antics keenly.
At a masked ball everyone gets very confused over who is who. Eventually Selim pairs off with old flame Zaida. Fiorilla is cast out by Geronio and, perhaps for the first time in her life, rues her bad behaviour – but forgiveness is just around the corner.
Rossini was just 22 when he wrote Il turco in Italia, his 13th opera and his third for La Scala, Milan. The young composer clearly relished librettist Felice Romani's outrageous farce, which serves up brazen ridiculousness with cynical delight. But the heroine's wildly immoral antics caused some consternation at the opera's premiere on 14 August 1814, and would play a part in Il turco's virtual disappearance from Europe's stages later in the century. The opera wasn't seen again until 1950, in Luchino Visconti's La Scala production, which starred Maria Callas as the incorrigible Fiorilla. The production's triumph secured the opera's position as one of Rossini's most complex and uproarious comedies.
Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier's 2005 production – the Royal Opera House's first – evokes the postwar era in which Il turco was rediscovered. Rossini's acerbic absurdities become the ingredients of a glamorous Fellini-esque comedy, set under the baking Neapolitan sun. Bright colours, breathtaking slapstick and irrepressible energy are the perfect accompaniment to Rossini's exhilarating bel canto music, which includes an array of show-stopping arias, duets and the famous quintet 'Oh! guardate che accidente'.
News and features
24 April 2015
Look on the sunny side of opera with a handful of the art form’s jollier moments.
13 April 2015
The Italian composer was a genius at creating silly, surprising and strangely moving comic operas.
12 April 2015
What did you think of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser's production of Rossini's comic opera?
10 April 2015
Rossini scales new heights of the ridiculous in this delightfully silly duet for two baritones.
Young Artist profile: Luis Gomes – ‘To perform a lead role at the Royal Opera House is a moment you wait for your whole life’9 April 2015
Portuguese tenor on stepping up to perform at the last minute, making his debut in a lead role and converting his family to opera.
8 April 2015
Our quick guide to Rossini’s delightful comedy.
Il turco in Italia (The Turk in Italy) is an opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The Italian-language libretto was written by Felice Romani. It was a re-working of a libretto by Caterino Mazzolà set as an opera (with the same title) by the German composer Franz Seydelmann in 1788. An opera buffa, it was influenced by Mozart's Così fan tutte, which was performed at the same theatre shortly before Rossini's work. The strangely harmonized overture, though infrequently recorded, is one of the best examples of Rossini's characteristic style. An unusually long introduction displays an extended, melancholy horn solo with full orchestral accompaniment, before giving way to a lively, purely comic main theme.