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  • 1 University of Toronto Faculty of Music Edward Johnson Building 80 Queen’s Park Toronto Ontario M5S 2C5 Canada
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As the first Italian opera to grace the stage of the new opera house at Eszterháza, Lo speziale (1768) afforded Kapellmeister Haydn, and the singers and orchestral musicians under his direction, the opportunity to revel in comedic performance. The revised libretto translated well to the rural court of Prince Nicolaus, whose tastes and cultural patronage extended to opera buffa. As Matthew Head has argued ( Cambridge Companion , 2005), Sempronio, the apothecary of the title whose fascination with the exotic makes him an easy target for duping, is also a harbinger of difference. And this “difference,” I contend, is the sign of Sempronio’s main character flaw — his Jewishness. Like other theatrical stereotypes on the mid-eighteenth-century stage, Jews came with a recognizable set of characteristic traits, all of which could readily be exploited in comedic contexts. How the apothecary’s profession and characterization, including aspects of voice, body and gesture, are linked to Jewish representation, is explored in this article through the analysis of a couple of representative scenes from the opera, among them the final Turkish scene, in which a confrontation between Orientalist Others creates semiotic overload. By characterizing the apothecary as Jewish, Haydn was able to demonstrate his complicity in the ideological agenda operative under the terms of his employment — i.e. that of re-inscribing the needs, desires and dominating authority of Prince Nicolaus. In Lo speziale , the prince’s penchant for theatrical works featuring Jewish characters and caricatures was transferred from Wanderntruppe to Operntruppe .