The Italian Girl in Algiers synopsis

ACT ONE
The Palace of Mustafa, Bey of Algiers: The Bey’s wife Elvira is complaining to her confidante Zulma that her husband no longer loves her, but the eunuchs of the harem advise the women to accept the suffering that is their sad destiny. Mustafa arrives and interrupts in an arrogant manner, Elvira attempts to regain his favour.
Alone now with Haly, captain of his pirates, Mustafa confesses that he is tired of his wife. He gives orders for Elvira to marry his young Italian slave Lindoro, while Haly and his men are to capture a new, Italian wife for him, of a livelier disposition.
Meanwhile Lindoro, after three months in Algiers, is bitterly missing the woman he loves and longs with ardour for the day when he can return home. But now that Mustafa has decided to marry him off, Lindoro feels trapped and tries to turn down this unusual proposal.
The sea-shore: A plane has crash-landed and Haly has captured the survivors including Isabella, who had set out to trace her fiance Lindoro. Overcoming her initial fear when surrounded by the pirates, she realises she must pull herself together and put her woman’s wiles to good use. Taddeo, her travelling companion, who is hopelessly in love with her, has also been captured and under these new circumstances, she passes him off as her uncle. When Haly discovers that his prisoners are Italians, he is overjoyed and predicts that Isabella will be Mustafa’s favourite in the harem. This unleashes Taddeo’s jealousy and Isabella expresses her irritation at having such a high-handed admirer. They must, however, stick together: each may have need of the other in this dangerous situation. The Palace: The Bey at last succeeds in persuading Lindoro to take Elvira off his hands, in exchange for his freedom and the longed-for permission to return to Italy. At once Haly arrives to tell Mustafa about the new Italian prisoner. Mustafa loses no time in getting rid of Elvira and Zulma. He already feels himself falling in love with the Italian girl and sets off to give her a fitting welcome. Lindoro tells Elvira and Zulma that the ship which is to take them back to Italy is ready to sail, but Elvira insists on seeing Mustafa just once more.
No sooner has he been introduced to Isabella than the Bey is won over by her beauty and above all by the allurements with which she so skilfully entraps him. Isabella uses the ascendant she has gained to have Taddeo set free. Now Lindoro, Elvira and Zulma arrive to bid the Bey farewell before leaving for Italy. After a moment of confusion and surprise at the sight of Lindoro, Isabella regains her self-control and turns the tables, to everyone’s amazement. She tells Mustafa that they may not be allowed to leave, nor must he abandon his wife, and then asks for Lindoro as her own, personal slave.
ACT TWO
The Palace: Elvira, Zulma, Haly and the eunuchs comment ironically on the sudden change brought about in Mustafa by the clever tricks of the Italian girl. Now the Bey arrives. He can’t wait to be alone with Isabella and sends Elvira and Zulma to tell her that he will join her for coffee.
Meanwhile. Isabella is with Lindoro. Having settled all her doubts as to his apparent infidelity, she decides to think up a plan which will allow them to escape. Mustafa, too, is preparing his weapons: so as to gain favour with Isabella, he decides to nominate Taddeo "Grand Kaimakan". Taddeo can’t help feeling more and more ridiculous, but fearing the worst he complies with the Bey’s wishes.
Elvira tells Isabella of the Bey’s amorous proposal. Isabella is indignant at her submissive behaviour: she should follow Isabella’s example and stand up to her husband. Knowing that the Bey is on his way, Isabella lingers pretending to make herself attractive for him. She is secretly watched by Mustafa, Taddeo, and Lindoro, but she is aware of their presence. Mustafa falls right into the trap. He orders Taddeo to assist him and to withdraw at the appropriate moment, i.e. when Mustafa sneezes. But the jealous Taddeo ignores his request and pretends to play dumb. Isabella surprises everybody by inviting Elvira to join them for coffee, provoking Mustafa’s wrath. Haly sings of the wiles of Italian women. Lindoro reveals Isabella’s plans to escape to Taddeo, who is so conceited that he feels sure she is doing everything just for him. Mustafa arrives and Lindoro promptly assures him that Isabella is inflamed with love for him and wants to confer the title of "Pappataci" on him, whose members lead a life exclusively of eating, drinking, sleeping, and ignoring anything that may be going on around them. The trick works. Isabella now rouses the captured Italian slaves to join in the escape. Tremendous patriotic Recitative & Rondo, a Mozartian insertion of opera seria into opera buffo.
All is in readiness for their escape. A ship is to hand and the ceremony provides a cover. Realizing the truth too late to prevent the escape, Mustafa concludes that Italian girls are too clever for him and asks for his docile wife’s forgiveness.

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