The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Inquisitive Women

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INQUISITIVE WOMEN (‘Le Donne Curiose’), an opera in three acts by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (libretto adapted by Luigi Sugana from a Goldoni comedy) first produced in Munich in 1903. The first dramatic work of the composer to secure more than local notice, this opera, or ‘musical comedy,’ as he terms it, quickly achieved world-wide success by reason of its vivacity and delicate charm. Of German and Italian parentage, Wolf-Ferrari is an eclectic. The artistic lineage of ‘Le Donne Curiose’ is plainly traceable to Mozart, though both ‘Meistersinger’ and ‘Falstaff’ influences are apparent. The orchestra, effectively used, is relatively a small one and in some respects the treatment harks back to an earlier day, when leading motives were less known. The music is distinguished by lyric simplicity and rythmical variety. The prevailing character is improvisational, well adapted to the slight tale of harmless intrigue which it accompanies. There are several easily recognized numbers — the trios in the first act, the quartet in the second, Rosaura's love soliloquy and the succeeding pages of almost Mozartean simplicity, the prelude to the last act, the barcarolle chorus and the final ensemble. There is no great emotional intensity, nor intellectual depth, but means and end are fitted in a thoroughly artistic and satisfying way.

Lewis M. Isaacs.