Un giorno di regno, ossia il finto Stanislao
Comic opera in two acts on a libretto by Felice Romani,
from Le faux Stanilas
by A.V. Pineau-Duval.
Première: Milan, Scala Theatre, September 5th, 1840.
Stanislao, king of Poland, must hide from his enemies, so asks the chevalier Belfiore to substitute him as king. The chevalier simulates his new role with the king's ex lover, the marquise of Poggio, as well; fortunately, she does not recognise him. He is thereafter obliged to intervene in a whole series of amorous intrigues within the court with both courtiers and castle guests as protagonists.
Finally the news arrives that the king is safe and that he has awarded the fidelity of Belfiore by nominating him marshal. Belfiore reveals his true identity and marries the marquise of Poggio.
After the success of Verdi's first opera Oberto conte di San Bonifacio, the Scala impresario Merelli commissioned a score for an opera buffo from him. He was to choose the libretto from those already written by Felice Romani. Verdi chose one that had been used by another composer back in 1818 called Il finto Stanislao, later to be changed to Un giorno di regno. The year 1840 was the start of a new carrier for Verdi in collaboration with the important Milan theatre, but was also the start of a terrible period in Verdi's personal life: he suffered from angina, and furthermore, was in such economic difficulties that his wife Margherita Barezzi deve had to pawn her jewels in order to pay the rent, since help from her father was late in coming. The in June, Margherita died suddenly from encephalitis. Shattered by sorrow, Verdi asked to break the contract for Un giorno di regno, but the impresario would not hear of it, and thus Verdi was obliged to write a comic opera in a lighthearted manner totally opposite to his current state of mind. The première took place at the Scala Theatre in Milan on September 5th, but was not very successful.