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Griselda (Antonio Maria Bononcini)

Griselda is an opera (dramma per musica) in three acts composed by Antonio Maria Bononcini. The opera uses a slightly revised version of the 1701 Italian libretto by Apostolo Zeno that was based on Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron (X, 10, "The Patient Griselda").[1] The opera was dedicated to Prince Maximilian Karl von Löwenstein, the Austrian governor of Milan, who died during the opera's world première on 26 December 1718 at the Teatro Regio Ducal in Milan. Nevertheless, Bononcini's opera was well received and enjoyed several revivals during the eighteenth century.

Opera by Antonio Maria Bononcini
Antonio Maria Bononcini.jpg
The composer
LibrettistApostolo Zeno
Based onBoccaccio's The Decameron (X, 10, "The Patient Griselda")
19 January 1718 (1718-01-19)

His brother, Giovanni Bononcini, wrote an even more popular version of his own to Zeno's libretto in 1722.[2]



Role Voice type Premiere cast[3]
26 December 1718
Griselda, wife of Gualtiero soprano Aurelia Marcello
Gualtiero, King of Thessaly contralto (originally a castrato) Domenico Tempesti
Roberto, brother of Corrado soprano (en travesti) Eleonora Scio
Corrado, Prince of Apulia tenor Giovanni Battista Pinacci
Costanza, missing daughter of Griselda and Gualtiero contralto Agata Landi
Ottone, a Sicilian nobleman bass Luca Mingoni


Detail from The Story of Patient Griselda, painted circa 1500

Act OneEdit

Years before the action begins, Gualtiero, King of Sicily, had married a poor shepherdess, Griselda. The marriage was deeply unpopular with the king's subjects and when a daughter, Costanza, was born, the king had to pretend to have her killed while secretly sending her to be brought up by Prince Corrado of Apulia. Now, faced with another rebellion from the Sicilians, Gualtiero is forced to renounce Griselda and promises to take a new wife. The proposed bride is in fact Costanza, who is unaware of her true parentage. She is in love with Corrado's younger brother, Roberto, and the thought of being forced to marry Gualtiero drives her to despair.

Act TwoEdit

Griselda returns to her home in the countryside where she is pursued by the courtier Ottone, who is in love with her. She angrily rejects his advances. Gualtiero and his followers go out hunting and come across Griselda's cottage. Gualtiero foils an attempt by Ottone to kidnap Griselda and allows her back to the court, but only as Costanza's slave.

Act ThreeEdit

Ottone still resolutely pursues Griselda and Gualtiero promises him her hand as soon as he himself has married Costanza. Griselda declares she would rather die and, moved by her faithfulness, Gualtiero takes her back as his wife. He reveals the true identity of Costanza and allows her to marry Roberto.


  1. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, by John Warrack and Ewan West (1992), 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5
  2. ^ Malcolm Boyd, Lowell Lindgren: "Griselda (i)", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed November 21, 2008), (subscription access)
  3. ^ "Almanacco 26 December 1718" (in Italian). AmadeusOnline. Retrieved 29 August 2010.

External linksEdit