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Carmelina

Cover to Original Cast Recording

A Musical in Two Acts, 12 Scenes. Book by Alan Jay Lerner and Joseph Stein. Based on the film "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell" (by Melvin Frank, Sheldon Keller, Dennis Norden.) Music by Burton Lane. Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.

Opened 8 April 1979 at the St. James Theatre, New York; closed 21 April 1979 (17 perfs)

Synopsis

The story takes place in the small Italian village of San Forino, about eighteen years after the end of World War II. Carmelina, the central character, is an attractive, highly respected lady, the mother of a lovely 17 year old daughter, Gia. The villagers know her as the widow of an American soldier, who had heroically died in battle, and whose family continues to support her and her daughter. But Carmelina harbours a painful secret.

The Story

Vittorio, the local cafe owner, had for years been deeply in love with Carmelina, but she refuses to return his affection, insisting that she will always remain true to the memory of her martyred husband.

As the story opens, Carmelina is in church, praying for the soul of her husband, while Vittorio looks on, expressing his frustrated passion for her. Although she coolly spurns his ardent approach, she shows her true feelings when she is alone; she is really in love with him but cannot admit it. And Vittorio expresses his determination to overcome all obstacles to his love.

The villagers now learn that the American battalion which had liberated the village is returning for a reunion and they are wildly enthusiastic. Not so, Carmelina; she is horrified at the news. We learn why when she confesses to her devoted maid, Rosa, that during the war, she had been romantically involved with three different GIs, one of whom is the father of her daughter. Now that they are about to return, her dark secret will be revealed and she will be disgraced. Rosa tries to calm her, reassuring her that she will still be the respected lady she has always been.

That night, Vittorio serenades her and Carmelina finally confesses her love for him. She assures him that in a few days (when the Americans have come and gone), they can finally get together. He is ecstatic.

The people of the village are joyous about the American visitors, coming to spend their Yankee dollars. Among the returning veterans are Messrs Braddock, Karzinski and Smith, Carmelina's three ex-paramours. When she meets them, she confesses that one of them is the father of her child, Gia, and of course, each of them believes she is referring to him. Her beauty rekindles the old passion and they each soliloquise.

That night there is a reunion party, and Gia is looking forward to meeting the friends of her "dead father".

Late that night, after the party, each of the three Americans come to visit his ex-lover, and in a hilarious scene (which closes the first act), they discover each other, and the truth of Carmelina's past relation with all three of them. But Gia overhears them and is heartbroken to realise that her mother had been living a lie, and that she does not even know who her father is.

The second act opens with Vittorio, alone on stage, confused and outraged; Carmelina had pledged her love but is now secretive and distant as ever. He expresses his feeling in the song. The three Americans, however, although infuriated at Carmelina for her deception, are taken with the charming daughter. Each of them is convinced she is his child.

Gia is so upset that she decides to spite her mother by eloping with a local fisherman, whom she does not even love. But the Americans and Vittorio learn of her plan and arrive at the church in time to stop the wedding.

Carmelina, aware only that her daughter has run off and her own life is shattered, decides that she is no longer going to live for others - she is going to be a free woman. The Americans - and Vittorio - now realise that Carmelina's motive for her long-time deception was to give her daughter a decent home and a good life, and that in the process she had sacrificed her own happiness. So, as the play ends, Vittorio and Carmelina can now face life together, openly and honestly.

Cast (in order of appearance):

Chorus of townspeople

Scenes and Settings:

The action takes place in 1961 somewhere in Italy.

Act 1

Scene 1: The Piazza of San Forino.
Scene 2: A short time later in Carmelina's house.
Scene 3: The wee hours of the following morning. The Piazza.
Scene 4: Late morning, the following day.
Scene 5: A short time later. Carmelina's house.
Scene 6: later. The Piazza.
Scene 7: Carmelina's house, late that night.

Act 2

Scene 1: Early the following morning. The Piazza.
Scene 2: Immediately following. Carmelina's house.
Scene 3: A Church.
Scene 4: Immediately following. Carmelina's house.
Scene 5: Immediately following. The Piazza.

Musical Numbers:

  1. It's Time for a Love Song - Vittorio
  2. Why Him? - Carmelina, Vittorio
  3. I Must Have Her - Vittorio
  4. Someone in April - Carmelina
  5. Signora Campbell - Rosa, Carmelina, Father Tommaso, Mayor Nunnzio, Townspeople
  6. Love Before Breakfast - Carmelina, Vittorio
  7. Yankee Doodles Are Coming to Town - Townspeople
  8. One More Walk Around the Garden - Walter Braddock, Steve Karzinski, Carlton Smith
  9. All That He'd Want Me to Be - Gia, Friends
  10. It's Time for a Love Song (reprise) - Vittorio
  11. Carmelina - Vittorio
  12. The Image of Me - Walter Braddock, Steve Karzinski, Carlton Smith
  13. I'm a Woman - Carmelina
  14. The Image of You - Flo Braddock, Walter Braddock
  15. It's Time for a Love Song (reprise) - Carmelina

Discography:

Original Broadway Cast Recording - Original Cast Records THT CD 9224