Opera Scotland

Zingari I zingari; The Gypsies

Tours by decade


Ruggero Leoncavallo (born Naples, 8 March 1867; died Montecatini, 9 August 1919)


Enrico Cavacchioli & Guglielmo Emanuel


Poem The Gypsies (1824) by Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)



First Performance: London (Hippodrome Theatre), 16 September 1912.

First Performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (Usher Hall), 2 May 2020.

Scottish Opera premiere: as above.



Leoncavallo's opera, in two acts, was based on the same Pushkin poem that had inspired the young student Sergei Rachmaninov a couple of decades earlier. That work, Aleko, has already featured in Scottish Opera's series of Sunday afternoon concerts.

Zingari was premiered in London at the Hippodrome, a popular theatre the shell of which survives, above Leicester Square tube station. It was well received and enjoyed a significant run as a West End entertainment.



Fleana, a young gypsy woman (soprano)

Radu, a young aristocrat (tenor)

Tamar, a gypsy poet (baritone)

Il Vecchio (the old man), chief of the Gypsies (bass)


Plot Summary

Radu meets and instantly loves Fleana. He is only accepted as her suitor by promising to renounce his previous life and family to live with the gypsies. This is agreed by the tribe, and he and Fleana are married, in spite of opposition from Tamar, who also loves her.

A year passes, and Radu realises that Fleana no longer loves him. She admits this and leaves him. Radu finds a timber hut in which Fleana and Tamar have met up. He locks them in and sets fire to it, killing them both.

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