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Robert Xavier Rodríguez

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Suor Isabella (1982)
Work Notes
Opera in one act.
Text Writer
Libretto by Daniel Dibbern based on a story from “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio.
G Schirmer Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
1 Hour 10 Minutes
women's SSA chorus or 3 soloists
Solo Instrument(s)
2 Sopranos, 2 Mezzo Sopranos
Programme Note
Robert Xavier Rodríguez Suor Isabella (1982)
The opera can be used as a companion to Puccini's Suor Angelica, with complementary cast, orchestra, and duration.

  • Sister Isabella (a young and beautiful nun) -- soprano
  • Abbess Usimbalda (Mother Superior) -- mezzo-soprano
  • Sister Ficcanaso (a prying and meddlesome nun) -- soprano
  • Sister Sgridaretta (an old and punctilious nun) -- mezzo-soprano
  • Three nuns (chorus with solos) -- SSA
  • Isabella's lover (disguised) -- mute

A group of nuns in a medieval Italian convent. The postulant, Isabella, has a hard time reconciling the earthy needs of her nature with the vows of her calling. This evokes a hilarious scene of reportage — an accounting of her bedroom activities as seen by the sisters through a keyhole, until it is revealed that the Abbess has similar problems.

View Vocal Score

  • 14 MAY 2011
    San Jose, CA
    San Jose State University Opera Workshop
    Barbara Day Turner, conductor

    Other Dates:
    15 May - San Jose, CA

Daniel Dibbern's English libretto does considerable justice to the subtleties of Boccaccio's richly human tale...So does the music of Rodríguez...A famous saltarello appears as a recurring theme, distorted in all manner of ingenious ways...His 70-minute opera views the medieval world through 20th-century eyes and ears, and does so colorfully, engagingly, and not too harshly.
Derrick Henry, The Boston Globe,01/01/0001
Suor Isabella is a romp about a group of nuns in a Medieval Italian convent whose earthly 'glorias' occasionally drown out their spiritual 'amens'...Isabella, it seems, has a hard time reconciling the earthly needs of her nature with the vows of her calling, as she relates in her charming aria. This evokes a hilarious scene of reportage of her bedroom activities as seen by the sisters through a keyhole until it transpires that Mother Superior has similar problems. All are resolved with tolerant cynicism of a truly viable faith...It is written tightly, is full of action and genuinely funny.
Patsy Swank, Dallas Downtown News,01/01/0001
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