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David Rizzio

grand opera in two acts

Music by Mary Carr Moore
Libretto by Emmanuel Browne
About David Rizzio

Moore's David Rizzio, an opera in a highly Italianate style and originally composed to an Italian libretto, was intended for a professional performance in Venice. When that performance failed to materialize, a number of amateur organizations banded together for the work's Los Angeles premiere.

Cast of Characters
Lord Murray, chief inquisitor of the court, bar Lady Argyle, sister of Mary Stuart, ms
Lord Darnley, royal consort of Mary Stuart, t Douglas, messenger for the banished lords, b
David Rizzio, secretary of Mary Stuart, t Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland, s
A Priest, bar Lord Ruthven, leader of the banished Lords, b
Arthur Erskine, page of Mary Stuart, t Lennox, actor
Morton, actor Andrew Ker, actor
Patrick Bellenden, actor
Men and ladies of the court, soldiers, retainers and attendants

Lord Murray, listening to the sound of Mary Stuart's Catholic mass, convinces the queen's sister, Lady Argyle, to sign the pact of Lennox, for the return and pardon of the banished lords; he tempts her by saying she is more fit for the crown than her sister. She hesitates because of her love for the Papal legate, David Rizzio, but in the end signs. The two then try to bully and humiliate the drunken royal consort, Lord Darnley, into signing, but he refuses angrily. They are joined by a third conspirator, Douglas, and in a trio, "Dammi Signor, il tuo soccorso," they finalize their plans.

Rizzio enters, and Lady Argyle attempts to seduce and coerce Rizzio to give up the treaty banishing Lennox, but he, loyal to Mary, refuses, and at Lady Argyle's signal Murry and his armed men attack Rizzio, but are foiled by the return of Darnley. Mary enters from Mass with a group of Catholic priests and nuns. Darnley, who has been stung by Murray's accusations, asks Mary when his coronation will take place; the queen, disgusted by his drunkenness, sends him away; she also sends away Murray, who attempts to seduce her. Alone, she bemoans her position, alone in an alien country. ("Sola, abbandonata") David Rizzio enters, and Darnley, hidden there by Murray and Argyle, witnesses a tender scene between them: Mary declares her love for Rizzio, who begs her to remain her servant. Mary, angrily, sends them away, but Darnley, enraged by what he has seen, signs the compact.

An intermezzo follows, after which Act II begins. Mary and her court are at dinner, with a storm beginning outside. Darnley enters and insults Mary, who grows angry; Rizzio pleads with the queen for mercy for the hapless consort. ("Clemenza, oh, Madonna") He is joined by the whole court in his plea for mercy. Mary agrees and the banquet continues, but soon the party is terrified by the growing storm. At the height of the storm, the banished Lennox himself bursts in, with armed men and Lord Ruthven, who has come from his deathbed to denounce Rizzio. He declares his innocence and denounces the court for its suspicion; he declares that he will leave the next morning to return to Italy. ("O gente, che state affondate") The lights in the room are blown out by a lightning bolt striking the tower, and Murray and Ruthven stab Rizzio. Mary curses the conspirators. Murray, terrified by the Queen's curse, runs off after the rest of the conspirators; Lady Argyle, repentant, weeps over Rizzio's body as Mary faints.

Performance History
World premiere
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles
May 26, 1928
David Rizzio: Lutar Hoobyar
Mary Stuart: Dorothy Francis
Lord Murray: Rodolfo Hoyos
Lady Argyle: Rosalie Barker Frye
Lord Darnley: William Wheatley
Douglas: Alphonso Pedroza
A Priest/Lord Ruthven: Frank Ellison
Arthur Erskine: Russell Horton
Alberto Conti, conductor

Last update: January 1, 2009