Italian Opera Premieres
3 to 24 November
As this month’s highlight of the opera genre, Stingray Classica presents a series of premieres by celebrated Italian composers. On four consecutive Sundays, viewers are invited to dive into the dramatic plots of operas by Rossini, Verdi, Bellini and Rota. The special commences on the 3rd of November, with a 2013 interpretation of Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, performed by the Opéra Royal de Liege, starring Enkelejda Shkosa and Carlo Lepore. The following week, the 10th brings La Forza del Destino, an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi, also from the Opéra Royal de Liege. Vincenzo Bellini’s I Puritani, based on a libretto by Carlo Pepoli, is broadcasted on the 17th, in a premiere from the Oper Stuttgart. The Italian opera premieres concludes with two operas by Nino Rota: I Due Timidi and La notte di un Nevrastenico from the 2017 Reate Festival in Rieti.
Rossini - L'italiana in Algeri
L'Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers), composed by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) as an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts, premiered in Venice in 1813. Stendhal, the French writer who published a biography of Rossini's life in 1924, described L'Italiana in Algeri as "total organized madness". The opera, surreal, manically energetic, and almost chaplinesque, was one of Rossini's early operas that made him a notable composer. Specifically unique is the enormous outburst in the finale of the first act. This version was performed at the Opéra Royal de Liege in Belgium by the Orchestre de l'Opera Royal de Wallonie, under the baton of Bruno Campanella, in 2013.
Verdi - La forza del destino
The Italian opera La forza del destino (The Fate of Destiny), composed by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre of Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1862. The libretto, written by Francesco Maria Piave (1810-1876) was based on the Spanish drama Don Álvaro o la fuerza del sino (1835) by Ángel de Saavedra (1791-1865), and follows the Leonora family of Seville. The opera has acquired a reputation of being cursed, as in 1960 baritone Leonard Warren collapsed and died during a performance of La forza del destino. The supposed curse reportedly kept Luciano Pavarotti from ever performing the opera, but it did not stop the Orchestre de l'Opera Royal de Wallonie. They performed under the baton of Paolo Arrivabeni at the Opéra Royal de Liege in Belgium, in 2013.
Bellini - I Puritani
I puritani is one of Bellini’s most creative and influential masterpieces, a bel canto opera stamped with vocal and orchestral writing of intoxicating beauty and dramatic intensity. Set in England in the Civil War period after Oliver Cromwell’s triumph, it involves romantic and political intrigues that drew from Bellini music of melodic raptness and melancholic depth. It also inspired him to compose some of his most breathtakingly virtuosic passages, notably Elvira’s Mad Scene, that call for the utmost in theatrical power. This production includes all the music performed at the work’s Paris premiere in 1835, and was performed at the Staatsoper Stuttgart, by the Staatsopernchor Stuttgart and the Staatsorchester Stuttgart, under the baton of Manlio Benzi, in 2018.
Nino Rota - I due timidi
The 2017 Reate Festival in Rieti, Italy staged two short operas composed by Nino Rota. Known chiefly for his cinema soundtracks and his lifelong relationship with iconic directors such as Federico Fellini, Francis Ford Coppola and Luchino Visconti (to name but a few), Rota was a musical enfant prodige who composed sacred music as well as operas from a very young age. Endowed with a streak of freedom, creativity and imagination that allowed him to forge his own unique style, he succeeded in merging the great Italian operatic tradition of Rossini, Puccini and Verdi with a contemporary musical language, setting himself apart from his contemporaries in the process. I due timidi was broadcast by Milan’s RAI in 1950 and first staged in London in 1952. Based on a text by the Italian screen writer Suso Cecchi D’Amico, it’s a comedy of errors. Although it lacks the usual happy ending, the pace of the musical action and the skills of the young actor-singers make the performance most enjoyable. “The pace of the narration changes continuously: frenzied rhythms suddenly shift to broad vocal declamations à la Puccini, with interludes reminiscent of jazz and the buffo style. Despite the richness and heterogeneity of the musical material, the singers always manage to stay vocally balanced, showing great acting abilities, as well… Conductor Gabriele Bonolis and his orchestra received midperformance applause for an energetic, fresh and brilliant performance.” This version was performed by the Reate Festival Orchestra.
Nino Rota - La notte di un nevrastenico
The 2017 Reate Festival in Rieti, Italy staged two short operas composed by Nino Rota. Known chiefly for his cinema soundtracks and his lifelong relationship with iconic directors such as Federico Fellini, Francis Ford Coppola and Luchino Visconti (to name but a few), Rota was a musical enfant prodige who composed sacred music as well as operas from a very young age. Endowed with a streak of freedom, creativity and imagination that allowed him to forge his own unique style, he succeeded in merging the great Italian operatic tradition of Rossini, Puccini and Verdi with a contemporary musical language, setting himself apart from his contemporaries in the process. La notte di un nevrastenico premiered at the Piccola Scala in 1960; the libretto is by Riccardo Bacchelli. It’s a short farce with a tragic, unexpected ending. This version was performed by the Reate Festival Orchestra under the baton of Gabriele Bonolis.