Faced with a castle full of women whose husbands and brothers are away on a Crusade, the young Count Ory uses every trick he can think of to get into the castle, and to try and win the hand of the beautiful Countess Adele. He sends his friend, Raimbaud, ahead of him, to announce the arrival of a hermit, who can help the women with their troubles. The women gladly welcome the hermit amongst them, unaware it is Count Ory in disguise.
Everything is going to plan until the Count’s Tutor and page, Isolier, arrive in the village. Isolier is also in love with the Countess and seeks advice from the hermit, with no idea he is telling the Count all his deepest secrets. The Count returns to the Countess, advising her that she should seek a lover to cure her melancholy, but to avoid the dangerous Isolier. When the Tutor is finally permitted into the castle, he recognises both Raimbaud and Ory and reveals their identities to the ladies. At the same moment, a letter arrives from the Countess’s brother: the husbands and brothers are returning in two days.
With only two days left to seduce the Countess, Count Ory comes up with a drastic plan. He disguises himself and his knights as nuns, and they pretend to be passing pilgrims caught in a terrible storm. With profound respect for the holy women, the Countess offers them safe harbor for the night. Isolier returns to the castle late that night bringing news that the men of the village are returning at midnight. He instantly recognises the Count and his men, and reveals their identities to the ladies, who are terrified at what will happen if their husbands return to find 14 men in the house.
Taking one last effort to get his hands on the Countess, Ory breaks into her bedroom in the night. In the dark, he reaches out across the room and caresses her hand. This time it is Count Ory’s turn to be shocked, when Isolier reveals that it is actually his hand the Count is holding, and it was his mouth that he kissed. But, their time is up: the men of the village have returned. Isolier helps the Count and his men to escape by a secret passage, and stays behind with the Countess.
With a wonderfully farcical plot, and music borrowed from Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims, Le Comte Ory is another great example of Rossini’s comic genius.
Le Comte Ory guide sections