Cruel fate! Tyrannical Cupid!
Is this the reward for my constancy?
No horror, terror or anguish exists
compared to that which I now suffer.
For you alone, my Lindoro,
I find myself in such peril.
From whom, oh God, can I hope for counsel?
Who will give me comfort? Who?
Keeping cool is what's wanted here,
no more rages or terror:
now is the time for courage;
now they'll see who I am.
From experience I already know the effect
of a languishing look,
of a slight sigh...
I know what to do to tame men.
Be they gentle or rough,
cool or ardent,
they're all alike, more or less...
What they all seek,
What they all long for
happiness with a pretty woman!
In Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers, Isabella is the fiery heroine, determined to set her own fate and be the one to rescue the prince in distress. Powerful female characters are a hallmark of Rossini's operas! In this one, the Turkish Bey Mustafà is bored of his harem and is seeking new, exotic – Italian– women. Isabella's love, Lindoro, has been enslaved by Mustafà, and she sets off to rescue him. Her ship is wrecked on the coast, and as she struggles to shore, Mustafà's men appear and capture her. Initally cursing her fate, she quickly realised that here is her opportunity to overcome Mustafà and rescue Lindoro. The Italians convince Mustafà that Isabella will declare him her adored pappataci (literally a "silent eater": a man unable to resist the opposite sex) – an Italian custom and a great honour, as the pappataci enjoy an idyllic life dedicated to eating, drinking and sleeping. In the fake ceremony, Isabella gets all the men drunk, allowing her and Lindoro to escape to freedom.