2001: A Space Opera
SYNOPSIS OF THE LIBRETTO.
The curtains open on a scene of rustic merrymaking. The setting is a small seaside hotel in the off season. Peasants and fishermen sing of the peace and tranquillity they enjoy when all the holiday makers are gone. Suddenly their song is interrupted by the arrival of a party of nobles from the city, led by the mysterious Countess (mezzo) and her lumpish servant Zandro (bass-baritone), who have come to inspect the hotel as a possible site for the Countess's annual Filking Court.
Unbeknownst to the Countess, though, one of the fishermen is not all he seems. Alfonso is in fact Alissa (soprano), who has come to the hotel in disguise in an attempt to rescue her beloved Miguel (tenor), son of the impoverished Don Riccardo, the Countess's arch-rival, who has bound himself to the Countess as a bondsman in return for the remission of his father's debts. Alissa, however, does not know that Miguel is no longer in the Countess's service, having exchanged places with Michele (contralto), the leader of a band of gypsies, who is disguised as Miguel and plans to kill the Countess at the Filking Court. Miguel, meanwhile, will lead the gypsies in a frontal assault on the hotel.
In a passionate and slightly bemused duet, Alissa pours out her love to the disguised Michele, who dares not reveal her true identity with Zandro lurking in the background. Meanwhile, the Countess declares a grand masked ball as a test of the hotel's facilities, and Miguel, hearing of this from a spy in the Countess's train, plans to attend the ball disguised as a carrot and spirit Alissa away. But his plans are doomed to failure...