La canterina (The Songstress or The Diva) is a short, two act, comic opera or opera buffa by Joseph Haydn, and the first one he wrote for Prince Esterhazy. Based on the intermezzo from the third act of Niccolò Piccinni's opera L'Origille (1760), it lasts about 50 minutes. It was written in 1766, and was premiered in the fall of that year.
It was originally intended as a pair of intermezzi, each of the two acts coming between the acts of an opera seria. Similar works include La Serva Padrona by Pergolesi and Pimpinone by Telemann.
Gasparina is the songstress, who is guided through life by her stage "mother" Apollonia. Gasparina is taught by Don Pelagio, a somewhat older man who falls for Gasparina and imagines she loves him. All Gasparina wants is his teaching — definitely not him — but allows him to think of himself as a sugar daddy. Don Ettore is the boy next door who is also smitten with Gasparina. He is rich, so Gasparina toys with him, accepting his presents, but that's about it.
Don Pelagio catches her with Don Ettore, and throws her out; he had actually let Gasparina live in an apartment of his up till then. Gasparina pulls a "poor destitute me" act and gets Don Pelagio's sympathy. She ends up managing to have both Don Ettore and Don Pelagio eating out of her hand.
The comic potential is enhanced by having Don Ettore played as a pants role: that is, by a woman, as is usually done with Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro. The role of Apollonia can also be played by a man.
There are two good quartets, and all characters but Don Ettore have arias to sing.