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Published on Aug 13, 2008
As I have mentioned before, the central ensemble number is almost an equivalent of a finale to Act One in Rossini's first five one-acters. All the main heros and the conflict have already been introduced. The central ensemble is, in many ways, the first time the characters have a confrontation with the conflict: in "L'occasione" it is given to Parmenione's and Alberto's trying to prove themselves to be the true "Alberto"; in "Il signor Bruschino" the father is first introduced to his "son" (Fioriville in disguise).
"L'inganno felice" isn't different in this respect. As the conflict (the villainous Ormondo was in love with Isabella, who was happily married to Duke Bertrando; when she rejected his advances, Ormondo spread vicious rumours about her reputation and bribed Batone into casting her adrift in a boat on the sea. But she was rescued by a local miner, Tarabotto, who then disguised her as his niece, Nisa) was already disclosed in the preceding numbers (including the already posted cavatina of Bertrando), husband and wife finally see each other (what's interesting: the three couplets are all sung over a different melodic line, but the same bass line). This section leads naturally into a dialogue where Bertrando is told that Isabella is Tarabotto's niece. His refusal to believe this, Isabella's torment and Tarabotto's confusion are described in the following concentrato. I am especially fond of the beautiful allegro section (starting at 2:55) which beautifully contrasts the couple's longing decorated lines with Tarabotto's bubbling in the background. Another series of couplets (again, each one set to a different melodic line) shows us Bertrando's continual question's to the "uncle" and the former's desire to hold Isabella as long as possible. Finally, a wonderful stretta finds Tarabotto trying to calm Bertrando down, while Isabella and Bertrando are confused by the events.