Opera Scotland

Prigione di Edimburgo La Prigione di Edimburgo; Imprisoned in Edinburgh

Imprisoned in Edinburgh

Tours by decade

Tours by location


Federico Ricci (born Naples, 22 October 1809; died Conegliano, Treviso 10 December 1877)


Gaetano Rossi, derived from a French libretto by Scribe and Planard for Carafa’s opera of 1833.


Novel The Heart of Midlothian (1818) by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).



First performance: Trieste (Teatro Grande), 13 March 1838.

First UK performance: Edinburgh (Queen’s Hall), 15 May 2011 (concert).

First performance in Scotland: as above.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.



Federico Ricci sometimes collaborated with his older brother Luigi (1805-59) in joint compositions, the most famous of which is the comedy Crispino e la comare (1850) which is still revived from time to time. He studied in Naples with Zingarelli as well as with Bellini. While Luigi specialised in comedy, Federico’s talent lay more with the subtle treatment of serious subjects. La prigione di Edimburgo was his fourth opera, though only his second solo effort. It gave him an immediate success. Later in his career, he abandoned composition for sixteen years after accepting a teaching post in St Petersburg. Following that with a move to Paris, he resumed composition with renewed success.


Main Characters

Duke of Argyll (bass)

Giorgio, his son (tenor) – George Robertson.

Ida, secretly married to George (soprano) – Effie Deans.

Fanny, her sister (soprano) – Jeanie Deans.

Giovanna, a madwoman infatuated with George (soprano) – Madge Wildfire.

Tom, a smuggler (bass)

Patrizio, a follower of the Duke (tenor)


Plot Summary

Ida leaves her baby outside while she attends to her father in his cottage. Giovanna, driven mad following the death of her own baby, steals the sleeping infant. Giorgio, a smuggler, and Ida’s secret husband, has a brief reunion with her, but is obliged to flee due to the arrival of soldiers. Ida is accused of having an illegitimate child and killing it. When her baby cannot be found she is taken to prison. In Edinburgh, the Duke is reconciled with his son Giorgio, now an ex-smuggler. Giovanna realises that her former lover and Ida’s current one are the same man. In his new role as Duke’s secretary, Giorgio appoints Tom, one of his former colleagues, as prison governor. Found guilty, Ida is condemned to death, much to Giorgio’s distress. In the prison, Tom enjoys his new role by getting drunk with the prisoners. Giovanna is brought in accused of theft. When Giorgio arrives, trying to think of a way to rescue Ida, Giovanna’s mad ramblings make him believe her child is actually Ida’s. A crowd gathers for Ida’s execution. Giovanna takes Giorgio off to a nearby bell-tower where she has left the baby. Tom breaks the news that some prisoners have set fire to their cells. The fire quickly spreads to the bell-tower. Giovanna lowers the baby in a basket to Ida waiting below and shouts that she is returning Ida’s own baby. Giovanna dies in the flames as Ida, Giorgio and their baby are reunited.

The Cast

Duca d'Argyle
 the Duke of Argyll
 Ida's sister
 the Duke's son
 a madwoman, infatuated with Giorgio
 secretly married to Giorgio
 a follower of the Duke
 a smuggler

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha