The I.O.U. Wedding

With his first professional opera, La cambiale di matrimonio–which he composed in 1810 at age 17–Rossini practically invented the 19th-century comic opera, a form rooted in commedia dell’arte that anticipated the satiric operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Seldom staged outside Italy, this tuneful oddity has been translated into English and updated by Richard Pearlman, head of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists. Rossini, using an extant libretto on the subject of greed, set the action in the London of his day, with a plot revolving around a bankrupt banker’s attempts to marry his daughter off to a rich American. (Just the sight of the vulgar lout–the popular European view of an American man–elicited howls of laughter at Venetian productions in the early 1800s.) Pearlman has set The I.O.U. Wedding in Boston right after the great stock-market crash of 1929; the banker is now a snooty Boston Brahmin named Tobias Miller, and the suitor, naturally, a brash Texan. “There was no need to change the libretto at all,” marvels Pearlman. Of course the music, too, remains the same–quintessentially Italian in its effervescent grace and fast pace. This fully staged production, which revels in the high jinks and the Mozartean melodies, marks Pearlman’s directorial debut. It’s also likely to benefit from the musical stewardship of Barbara Schubert, who will conduct the semiprofessional University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The cast is staffed by the center’s apprentice singers. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, Hutchinson Courtyard, University of Chicago, 57th and University; 702-7300.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of Richard Pearlman.