ACT I: Good Friday, 1950. Luca Sabatini returns under cover of night to his abandoned family homeplace. Released from a life sentence because he was proven innocent of murder, he is returning to a village which is still highly suspicious of him and the ruin which seemed to fall on the village following his trial, during which he mysteriously refused to defend himself. The next morning, Andrea Cipriani arrives and takes an immediate interest in Luca’s return, to the confusion of local officials. That night, Andrea goes privately to Luca and questions him about what could have made Luca, an innocent man, refuse to provide an alibi and accept an unjust sentence of life in prison. ACT II: 1910. The curtain rises on preparations for a wedding between Lauretta and Luca. An emerald necklace arrives, a gift from a local noblewoman, Donna Ortensia, which seems out-of-place and enrages Luca. He tears the necklace from Lauretta’s neck and takes it back to Ortensia, alone in her garden. He professes his secret love for Ortensia, but must run away when her husband arrives. At dinner that night, Luca breaks off the engagement with Lauretta and storms away into the night, proclaiming himself “a criminal” for what he must do. ACT III: Easter Morning, 1950. The arrival of local officials interrupts Luca’s retelling of the night of his arrest in 1910. It is revealed that Father Serafin, seeing that she was wasting away with love for Luca, hid Ortensia away in a convent after Luca went to prison. Andrea, eager to reunite Luca and Ortensia, runs to the convent, only to discover that Ortensia died on the same day Luca was released. When he returns at dawn to tell Luca the news, Luca sees that Andrea left the seal on Ortensia’s diary unbroken, and realizes that Andrea is worthy to know the secret of where he was on the night of the murders. In a climactic duet, Luca reveals that he actually left Lauretta’s party resolved to kill himself, but was saved by a single, forbidden embrace from Ortensia – the secret memory of which sustained him through forty years of prison.
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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)
Number of Acts
Lush, tonal, atonal, Puccini, Dallapiccola
Vocal & Musical Forces
9 singers (minor roles doubled). Woodwind quinet + String Quartet + Piano +1 Percussionist + Contrabass