Cin Ci La?

It’s the start of this year’s amateur dramatic season at Bagni di Lucca’s charming Teatro Accademico. The season‘s starting in fine style this weekend with ‘Cin Ci La’. If you’re into operetta you’re in for a fine treat. And if you’re into Italian operetta your treat will be even sweeter!

Operetta is a notorious cross-border traveller because of its more localised humour and satire. Gilbert and Sullivan are virtually unknown in Italy – Offenbach makes a juicy exception in the UK. But who in that country has heard of Carlo Lombardo librettist – and composer and pastiche-maker too – (1869-1959) and Virgilio Ranzato (1882-1937)? Lombardo, collaborated with Ranzato in creating two of Italy most loved operettas, ‘Il paese dei campanelli’ in 1923 and their masterpiece, ‘Cin ci la’ of 1925. They were both fans of Lehar (who wasn’t at that time?)

(Lombardo and Ranzato)

‘Cin Ci la’ (which is set in China, more specifically in Macao) tells the tale of a marriage between princess Myosotis and Prince Ciclamino. According to custom all entertainment and festivals are suspended until clear notice is given of the consummation of the marriage. Unfortunately, Myosotis and Ciclamino have been brought up without any sex education and the only advice they’ve been given is that they must ‘tubare’ i.e. bill and coo like two turtle doves (which gives rise to one of the most exquisite duets in the operetta). An heir is desperately need for China’s dynasty and when Myosotis and Ciclamino argue as to whether babies can be found in a cabbage patch or whether they are enclosed within rose petals the situation seems truly dire!

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The consummation of the marriage is supposed to be heralded by the playing of a carillon. Everybody in Macao is worried because it might be quite a long time before they hear the carillon’s dulcet tones and they can start their wedding festivities until that is, the French actress Cin Ci La coincidentally arrives to star in a film set in Macao. Fon-Ki, the mandarin, thinks of hiring a sex therapist for Ciclamino and chooses Cin Ci La. Suddenly, however, Cin Ci La’s infatuated lover, Petit Gris, arrives upon the scene, seething with jealous rage. To revenge his jilting sweetheart Petit Gris turns his attentions to Myosotis. It’ll be these two Parisians to wean Ciclamino and his young bride and initiate them into the luscious mysteries of conjugal union and in the end one gets to hear the carillon (in fact twice, which amazes everyone), China has an heir and everyone lives happily ever after.

I’ve never heard ‘Cin Ci La’ live so this will be a great chance to hear Italy’s equivalent of Ivor Novello and Noel Coward (‘Cin Ci La’ was written in the same decade that produced “Bitter Sweet”).

The music is simply adorable. Catchy tunes and lovely sweeps of lyricism, some with touches of orientalism, point to the fact that Lombardo and Ranzato’s great contemporary was Giacomo Puccini himself whose ‘La Rondine’, first produced in 1917, could be described as ‘Grand Operetta’ and was similarly influence by Lehar.

Apart from the beautiful music the libretto is very witty and quite ‘spinto’ – i.e. saucy. If you love operetta and know your Italian you’ll be seduced by ‘Cin Ci La’!

Performance details are as follows:

Time: October 11th 5.30 pm. Teatro Accademico Bagni di Lucca.

Performer: “L’allegra operetta” company with soprano Cosetta Gigli (no relation?)

Tickets 8 euros

More details at:

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If you are unfortunate enough to miss this operetta there’s a very good production staged at Trieste’s Teatro on Youtube at

Further appointments for the amateur dramatic season at Bagni di Lucca’s theatre are as follows:


See also


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