Jacopo Ferretti

Jacopo Ferretti, Italian librettist and poet, 1784—1852

Jacopo Ferretti (16 July 1784 – 7 March 1852) was an Italian writer, poet and opera librettist. His name is sometimes written as Giacomo Ferretti.

He is most famous for having supplied the libretti for two operas composed by Rossini and for five operas composed by Donizetti.


Introduced by his father to literature while very young, in addition to his native Italian, Ferretti mastered not only Latin and Ancient Greek but also French and English, and began writing verse early. Even though he worked in the tobacco industry from the age of about 30 until he was over 60, he was extremely prolific, writing "everything from love letter to odes and welcoming speeches",[1] and numerous opera libretti, all but the few listed below being generally forgotten.

His first big success was La Cenerentola, written at great speed for Rossini over Christmas in 1816. Ferretti wrote afterwards how he had agreed to write a libretto on a subject which the censor vetoed, so he met the composer and the theatre manager to discuss alternatives. He struggled to find a new subject that appealed, but about two dozen were rejected for one reason or another. At last, yawning wearily, Ferretti said "La Cenerentola" ("Cinderella") and at last Rossini decided he liked it, so Ferretti went home and began at once, worked night and day on it, and gave sections to Rossini on Christmas Day. Early on during the production there were problems, but Rossini predicted (correctly) that it would be a great success in the long term.[1]

Ferretti married the singer Teresa Terziani in 1820, and their house was continually visited by musicians and poets, including Donizetti who had been given a letter of introduction to Ferretti by Johann Simon Mayr. They became good friends after the young composer's arrival in Rome in October 1821 for the preparation of the production of his Zoraida di Granata, which became his first major success. Ferretti worked on revising Bartolomeo Merelli's libretto for the opera.[2]

Librettos by Ferretti

Altogether, Ferretti wrote about 70 librettos, the majority of which were for operas presented in Rome.[3]

Title Genre Subdivisions Music Première Place, theatre Notes
L'inganno dura poco, ossia Le nozze di don Madrigale burletta 2 acts Cesare Jannoni 9 September 1807 Rome, Teatro Valle
La principessa per ripiego dramma giocoso 2 acts Francesco Morlacchi 15 April 1809 Rome, Teatro Valle Probably after La villanella ingentilita by Francesco Saverio Zini
La Didone dramma serio 3 acts Valentino Fioravanti 9 June 1810 Rome, Teatro Valle After Didone abbandonata by Pietro Metastasio
Baldovino dramma serio Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli 1811 Rome, Teatro Argentina
Il bello piace a tutti melodramma giocoso 1 act Valentino Fioravanti 1811
Berenice regina d'Armenia dramma per musica 3 acts Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli 12 November 1811 Rome, Teatro Valle After Lucio Vero by Apostolo Zeno.
As Berenice in Armenia: music by Carlo Evasio Soliva, March 1817, Turin, Teatro Regio
Tito in Langres dramma serio 2 acts Antonio del Fante 4 January 1813 Rome, Teatro Argentina
Amore assottiglia l'ingegno dramma buffo 2 acts Pietro Carlo Guglielmi 26 December 1814 Rome, Teatro Valle
Rinaldo d'Asti dramma buffo 2 acts Carlo Coccia 17 February 1816 Rome, Teatro Valle
La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo dramma giocoso 2 acts Gioachino Rossini 25 January 1817 Rome, Teatro Valle
Polissena dramma giocoso 3 acts Ferdinando Rutini 11 February 1817 Rome, Teatro Argentina
Bartolommeo colla Cavalla melodramma buffo 2 acts Antonio Pauselli Autumn 1817 Florence, Teatro della Pergola 1827: Carlo Conti (as L'innocente in periglio); 1836: Paolo Lami; 1838: Massimiliano Quilici
Pulcinella impresario Ferdinando Rutini 1817 Rome
Scipione in Cartagine melodramma serio 2 acts Saverio Mercadante 26 December 1820 Rome, Teatro Argentina
La festa della riconoscenza o sia Il pellegrino bianco melodramma giocoso 2 acts Filippo Grazioli 25 January 1821 Rome, Teatro Apollo
Matilde di Shabran, o sia Bellezza, e cuor di ferro melodramma giocoso 2 acts Gioachino Rossini 24 February 1821 Rome, Teatro Apollo
La capricciosa ed il soldato melodramma giocoso 2 acts Michele Carafa 26 December 1821 Rome, Teatro Apollo
Cesare in Egitto melodramma eroico 2 acts Giovanni Pacini 26 December 1821 Rome, Teatro Argentina
Zoraida di Granata melodramma eroico 2 acts Gaetano Donizetti 28 January 1822 Rome, Teatro Argentina Contributed. After Bartolomeo Merelli
Amalia e Palmer melodramma 2 acts Filippo Celli 14 September 1822 Teatro Argentina
Eufemio di Messina melodramma eroico 2 acts Michele Carafa 26 December 1822 Rome, Teatro Argentina
Il corsaro, ovvero Un maestro di cappella al Marocco melodramma giocoso 2 acts Filippo Celli 26 December 1822 Rome, Teatro Valle
Amori ed armi 2 acts Francesco Cianciarelli Carnival 1823 Rome, Teatro Valle
L'ajo nell'imbarazzo, o Don Gregorio melodramma giocoso 2 acts Gaetano Donizetti 4 February 1824 Rome, Teatro Valle
Gli amici di Siracusa melodramma eroico 3 acts Saverio Mercadante 7 February 1824 Rome, Teatro Argentina
L'audacia fortunata dramma giocoso per musica Antonio Sapienza Summer 1824 Naples, Teatro del Fondo 1827: Carlo Conti
Riccardo l'intrepido melodramma 2 acts Giuseppe Balducci 9 September 1824 Rome, Teatro Valle
La comunità di Castel Formicolone ovvero Le gelosie villane dramma giocoso 2 acts Vittorio Trento 1824
Le civette in apparenza o sia una Lezione ai maldicenti melodramma 1 act Luigi Gambale 3 June 1826 Rome, Teatro Valle
La fedeltà fra i boschi o sia Il taglialegna di Dombar Filippo Grazioli September 1826 Rome, Teatro Valle
Olivo e Pasquale melodramma giocoso 2 acts Gaetano Donizetti 7 January 1827 Rome, Teatro Valle
La sposa persiana Luigi Gambale 1827
La sciocca per astuzia Luigi Gambale 7 February 1828 Rome
L'orfanella di Ginevra melodramma semiserio 2 acts Luigi Ricci 9 September 1829 Rome, Teatro Valle
L'eroina del Messico melodramma serio 2 acts Luigi Ricci 9 February 1830 Rome, Teatro di Tordinona
Il corsaro melodramma romantico 3 acts Giovanni Pacini 15 January 1831 Rome, Teatro Apollo
Il nuovo Figaro melodramma giocoso 2 acts Luigi Ricci 15 February 1832 Parma, Nuovo Teatro Ducale
Il furioso all'isola di San Domingo melodramma 2 acts Gaetano Donizetti 2 January 1833 Rome, Teatro Valle
Torquato Tasso melodramma 3 acts Gaetano Donizetti 9 September 1833 Rome, Teatro Valle
Il Cid melodramma serio 2 acts Luigi Savj 22 January 1834 Parma, Nuovo Teatro Ducale
I due incogniti melodramma semiserio Francesco Bornacini 5 February 1834 Rome, Teatro Valle
Eran due or son tre melodramma buffo 2 acts Luigi Ricci 10 May 1834 Venice, Teatro San Benedetto
La casa disabitata melodramma giocoso 2 acts Lauro Rossi 16 August 1834 Milan, Teatro alla Scala
Chi dura vince melodramma eroicomico 2 acts Luigi Ricci 26 December 1834 Rome, Teatro Valle
La pazza per amore melodramma semiserio 2 acts Pietro Antonio Coppola 14 February 1835 Rome, Teatro Valle
Il colonnello melodramma giocoso 2 acts Luigi Ricci and Federico Ricci 14 March 1835 Naples, Teatro del Fondo
Monsieur de Chalumeaux melodramma comico 2 acts Federico Ricci 14 June 1835 Venice, Teatro San Benedetto
Giulietta ossia La fanciulla abbandonata melodramma 2 acts Pasquale Guglielmo 1835
Il disertore per amore melodramma giocoso 2 acts Luigi Ricci and Federico Ricci 13 February 1836 Naples, Teatro del Fondo
La festa della rosa melodramma giocoso 2 acts Pietro Antonio Coppola 29 June 1836 Vienna, Theater am Kärntnertor
Salvini e Adelson melodramma semiserio 2 acts Luigi Savi 1839
Il sogno punitore melodramma 3 acts Giuseppe Gerli 1839
Furio Camillo melodramma tragico 3 acts Giovanni Pacini 26 December 1839 Rome, Teatro Apollo
Contraddizione e puntiglio melodramma giocoso Michele Simeoni 1842
Paolo e Virginia melodramma semiserio 3 acts Mario Aspa 29 April 1843 Rome, Teatro Metastasio As Gli isolani: Davide Dugnani, 1857
Il folletto melodramma giocoso 2 acts Pietro Antonio Coppola 18 June 1843 Rome, Teatro Valle
Il puntiglioso Antonio Brancaccio 1846
Gismonda di Mendrisio tragedia lirica 3 acts Luigi Badia 10 February 1846 Bologna, Teatro Comunale
La figlia di Figaro melodramma giocoso 3 acts Lauro Rossi 17 April 1846 Vienna, Theater am Kärntnertor
Il cavaliere di San Giorgio, ossia Il mulatto melodramma semiserio 2 acts Giuseppe Lillo Autumn 1846 Turin, Teatro Carignano



  1. ^ a b Opera Talent entry for Jacopo Ferretti
  2. ^ Allit 1991, pp. 26—27
  3. ^ Black 1998, p. 167

Other sources

  • Allitt, John Stewart (1991), Donizetti: in the light of Romanticism and the teaching of Johann Simon Mayr, Shaftesbury: Element Books, Ltd (UK); Rockport, MA: Element, Inc.(USA)
  • Bini, Analisa (1996), Jacopo Ferretti e la cultura del suo tempo ("Jacopo Ferretti and the culture of his time"), Skira. ISBN 88-8118-599-7
  • Black, John (1998), "Ferretti, Jacopo", in Stanley Sadie, (Ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, Vol. Two, pp. 167–168. London: Macmillan Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-333-73432-7 ISBN 1-56159-228-5
  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-140-29312-4