Giuseppe Cappelli composed Fantasia di Ruy Blas after Filippo Marchetti’s (1831-1902) opera Ruy Blas, in 1886. The opera was a four-act dramma lirico set to a libretto by Carlo d’Ormeville after Victor Hugo’s 1838 historical drama of the same name. It premiered at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on April 3, 1869, and was Marchetti’s most notable opera. Forced into exile by Regina, the Queen of Spain (soprano) for rejecting her lady-in waiting, the wicked Don Sallustrio (baritone) plots revenge. He presents to the queen his valet, Ruy Blas (tenor), who is secretly in love with the queen, as the noble Don Cesare. Ruy Blas gains the queen’s favor and is promoted to prime minister and made a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. When Don Sallustrio reveals to the queen that she has fallen in love with a mere servant, Ruy Blas kills Don Sallustrio in a duel and then kills himself by drinking poison, an act that earns him the forgiveness of the queen. Giuseppe Cappelli’s Fantasia di Ruy Blas begins with a dramatic opening for e-flat clarinet and piano taken from the Preludio of Marchetti’s Ruy Blas. This leads into the first andantino, the Duetto for soprano and tenor of Act 3, Scene 3, “Dietro quell’uscio.” Music in the Andante sostenuto section is lifted from Marchetti’s most famous aria of the opera (and his career)—“O dolce volutta!” Here an impassioned Ruy Blas shares his joy at the news the queen is in love with him. Though out of order from the opera, the queen’s light-hearted love song, “Che t’amo,” follows and Cappelli affords the e-flat clarinet an opportunity for embellishment of the original aria. One final lyrical passage, taken from Regina’s somber aria, “O madre mia,” of Act 2, Scene 1, concludes the fantasy before Cappelli’s energetic finale of original material.