Libretto title page, Venice 1850
Libretto title page, Venice 1850

Crispino e la comare o Il medico e la morte (The Cobbler and the Fairy or The Doctor and Death) is an opera written collaboratively by Luigi Ricci and Federico Ricci with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.

Performance history

The premiere took place on 28 February 1850 at the Teatro San Benedetto in Venice.

The work was very popular during the 19th century, and was a favourite of Italian touring companies in the Americas, and in the Asia-Pacific region.

It had its London premiere on 17 November 1857 at St James's Theatre. It was first performed in Paris on 4 April 1865 in Italian by the Théâtre Italien and was performed on 18 September 1869 as Le Docteur Crispin, with a French translation by Charles Nuitter and Alexandre Beaumont, at the Théâtre de l'Athénée on the rue Scribe.[1] Its Calcutta premiere was in 1867 at the Calcutta Opera House,[2] and its Australian premiere was on 11 August 1871 at the Princess Theatre (Melbourne).[3]

Though it was rarely performed in the 20th century, the Festival della Valle d'Itria in Martina Franca, Italy staged the work as part of its 39th opera festival in July 2013. Bass-baritone Domenico Colaianni sang Crispino, while the role of Annetta was taken by Stefania Bonfadelli.[4]


Roles, voice types, premiere cast
Role Voice type Premiere cast, 28 February 1850[5]
Crispino Tachetto, the cobbler bass Carlo Cambiaggio
Fabrizio, a doctor baritone Luigi Rinaldini
Mirabolano, a doctor and apothecary bass Luigi Ciardi
Contino del Fioro, a Tuscan nobleman tenor Giuseppe Pasi
Don Asdrubale di Caparotta, a Sicilian miser bass Angelo Guglielmini
Bortolo, a mason tenor
Annetta, Crispino's wife soprano Giovannina Pecorini
Lisetta mezzo-soprano Paolina Prinetti
La Comare, the fairy mezzo-soprano Giovannina Bordoni


Place: Venice
Time: the 17th century

Crispino is a poor cobbler who cannot make ends meet. He is helped by a fairy who encourages him to start practicing medicine, though he cannot even read. He is successful with the fairy's help but cannot bear prosperity gracefully and mistreats his wife. The fairy makes him aware of his faults and the cobbler's family is happily reunited.




  1. ^ Loewenberg 1978, column 879; Lecomte 1912, p. 99.
  2. ^ Esmeralda Rocha, Opera in Calcutta 1833–1900
  3. ^ Eric Irvin, Dictionary of the Australian Theatre 1788–1914
  4. ^ Dino Foresio, "Italy: Martina Franca", in Opera (London), December 2013, pp. 1575—1576
  5. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Crispino e la comare, 28 February 1850". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  6. ^ Crispino e la comare (1938) at IMDb


Further reading