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The Bey is bored with his submissive harem , desiring a new challenge to his virility: he wants an Italian girl, and Haly must find one! Lindoro enters alone and sings about Isabella, his true love Languir per una bella.
The enthusiastic Bey describes the attractions of the match, while Lindoro struggles to refuse Se inclinassi a prender moglie. The seashore A ship has been wrecked in a storm. Its passengers include Isabella, in search of Lindoro, and Taddeo, her travelling companion and would-be lover.
Isabella enters with a sorrowful cavatina Cruda sorte! Amor tiranno! Haly and his men take them prisoner. She passes off Taddeo as her uncle. Haly is delighted to learn she is an Italian — exactly what the Bey wanted! Lindoro agrees, admitting a vague possibility of marrying her in Italy.
Haly enters with news of the arrival of the Italian beauty. He is enchanted, though she is rather amused by his appearance Oh! Che muso, che figura!
Lindoro and Isabella are astonished to come face to face. The act ends with an ensemble of confusion Confusi e stupidi. Elvira and Zulma must tell Isabella he is coming to take coffee with her. Isabella and Lindoro are alone. He explains that he had no intention of marrying Elvira. They agree to escape together and Lindoro sings of his happiness Ah come il cor di giubilo.
He dislikes interceding with Isabella for the Bey, but is frightened to refuse Ho un gran peso sulla testa. In her apartment Isabella is dressing in Turkish style. Isabella orders three cups. Elvira should wait in a side room. This, as Lindoro explains Pappataci! Che mai sento! Isabella explains his obligations. He must swear an oath of eating, drinking, and keeping silent, repeating the words after Taddeo. Following that his oath is tested, under provocation by Isabella and Lindoro.
A European ship lies alongside the palace: time to escape! Taddeo finally realizes who Lindoro is, but decides to go along with them anyway. Elvira, Zulma and Haly find the Bey still acting as a mad pappataci. No more Italian girls for him!
L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI – DIE ITALIENERIN IN ALGIER – Nürnberg, Staatstheater