Librettist, Giuseppe Adami
Synopsis: A barge is moored on the River Siene. As it is being unloaded by the stevedores, their boss, Michele, complains to Georgetta, his wife, about the distance he feels between them. As the work is finished, Georgetta offers the men wine. A minstrel passes, and for a time, the group dance and talk together before all but one, Luigi, leave. Alone with her lover, Luigi, Georgetta tells him of the joys of life in Paris, rather than the unsettled life she has on a cramped barge with a surly man much older than she. They arrange to meet later that night when Michele is sleeping below—Georgetta will light a match to signal to Luigi that the coast is clear. Michele returns on deck, and Luigi leaves. Michele recalls the good old days between his wife and he, when there was love between them and he used to shelter her under his cloak. Georgetta remains distant, and eventually retires to her cabin, leaving Michele brooding alone on deck. It is dark. As he ponders the identity of his wife’s lover, Michele lights a match to ignite his pipe. Mistaking the signal, Luigi comes on board to meet Georgetta. Michele grabs him, forces him to confess, and strangles him, hiding the body under his cloak. Georgetta returns on deck, concerned at the noises she has heard. Finding Michele alone, she warms to him in order to divert his suspicions, and asks to be taken under his cloak. Happy to oblige, Michele pulls his wife under his cloak and into her dead lover’s body.
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