Donizetti Opera: the details of the 2023 edition
DONIZETTI OPERA FESTIVAL 2023: SPECIAL EDITION FOR BERGAMO BRESCIA ITALIAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE
opening with LU OpeRave, a new electronic music opera then Il diluvio universale, Alfredo il Grande, Lucie de Lammermoor by Donizetti and Il piccolo compositore di musica by Mayr
The programme includes renowned stars such as Giuliana Gianfaldoni, Caterina Sala, Nahuel Di Pierro, Enea Scala and Antonino Siragusa
On the podium, in addition to music director Riccardo Frizza, we will see Corrado Rovaris again, and French repertoire expert Pierre Dumoussaud will make his debut
The operas will be directed by MASBEDO, Stefano Simone Pintor and Jacopo Spirei
The artistic director Francesco Micheli will be engaged in the adaptation and staging of Mayr’s farce with the students of Bottega Donizetti and Bergamo’s Politecnico delle Arti
Bergamo, from 16 November to 3 December 2023 Donizetti Opera
5 May Donizetti Revolution vol. 9
3 June Donizetti Night
The Donizetti Opera festival – the international festival dedicated to the composer from Bergamo, organized by the Donizetti Theatre Foundation chaired by Giorgio Berta with the general direction of Massimo Boffelli, the artistic direction of Francesco Micheli and the musical direction of Riccardo Frizza – has come to its ninth edition, which will take place in Bergamo, “The City of Gaetano Donizetti”, from 16 November to 3 December 2023.
As we wait for the autumn, there are two events not to be missed: next Friday, 5 May, at the Donizetti Theatre, Francesco Micheli, together with some guests, will present the festival programme with the conference-show Donizetti Revolution vol. 9. While on Saturday, 3 June the Donizetti Night will finally come back after the pandemic.
The 2023 edition of the Donizetti Opera festival will be a special one, as the now well-established structure of the festival will be enriched by the initiatives for Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture, whose thematic areas and concept will run through the productions on several levels. The three weekends are extended and begin on Thursday with LU OpeRave (16, 23 and 30 November) the new creation inspired by Donizetti’s most famous work, which will debut in a non-theatrical venue, with space for conviviality and with a view to the present and innovation. Then at the Donizetti Theatre we will stage two extremely rare titles by Gaetano Donizetti – Il diluvio universale (17 and 25 November, 3 December) and Alfredo il Grande (19 and 24 November) – followed by Johann Simon Mayr’s farce Il piccolo compositore di musica (2 December) in its modern premiere. On the other hand, Lucie de Lammermoor will be staged at the Teatro Sociale (18 and 26 November, 1 December). This work contains Donizetti’s most famous music and, at the same time, presents it in a rare version by the author himself, the performance of which is the main task of a festival, especially when an opera is part of the repertoire of theatres all around the world and is considered one of the paradigms of Romantic melodrama.
The study and research of Donizetti’s legacy and stylistic uniqueness, entrusted to the scientific department of the Donizetti Theatre Foundation directed by Paolo Fabbri, always plays a pivotal role, as they design the festival programme, choose the editions and prepare the philological restitution of the musical texts.
The collaboration with the Accademia Teatro alla Scala continues thanks to the presence of its Choir conducted by Salvo Sgrò, which will be joined by the Hungarian Radio Choir conducted by Zoltán Pad. As usual, in the pit there will be the Donizetti Orchestra and the Orchestra Gli Originali, with which we will continue to explore Donizetti’s pages on period instruments. Then a new collaboration project opens with the newly founded Politecnico delle Arti founded in Bergamo by the “Gaetano Donizetti” Conservatory and the Accademia di Belle Arti “Giacomo Carrara.”
There will also be a number of concerts, the Dies Natalis programme, training and dissemination activities for students, and initiatives for the city in an intense calendar that will be announced over the next months.
LU OpeRave at the Balzer Globe
The 2023 programme of the Donizetti Opera festival – which won the “Oper! Award” as best European festival for German critics in 2019 and has four nominations for the International Opera Award always as best festival of the year – opens with the new creation LU OpeRave (16, 23 and 30 November) in which Donizetti’s music meets electronics and new trends, and which is in line with the Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture 2023 thematic area “The inventive city.” The title recalls Lucia di Lammermoor, from which the authors of this new experimental project were inspired and which is the focus of many of the festival’s activities. The performance will take place at the Balzer Globe, in the heart of the Centro Piacentiniano opposite the Donizetti Theatre, an unconventional venue with the audience as an integral part of the performance. LU OpeRave stems from Mixopera vol. 1 and vol. 2, the electronic music EPs inspired by Donizetti’s music with the participation of some of the most important European musicians gathered around the Fluidostudio label, available on all streaming platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, YouTube Music). Among the artists of the Eps involved in LU OpeRave are Stefano Libertini Protopapa (creative director of the project), ilromantico, H.E.R. authors of the music. The libretto is Maniaci d’amore. The director and choreographer is Mattia Agatiello, who brings to the stage his multi-award-winning and famous dance company Fattoria Vittadini based in Milan at the Fabbrica del Vapore. The sets and costumes are by Andrea Cammarosano and Leonardo Persico, who will involve the young participants in the workshops of the TOOLS project they devised and carried out in Milan with the Welfare and Health Directorate of the Municipality and some companies in the textile sector, to transform their studio into a collaborative social workshop. The performers come from different musical backgrounds and experiences – soprano Laura Ulloa (who attended Bottega Donizetti in 2021), well-known vocalist David Blank and performer M¥SS KETA as narrator – and represent a fusion designed to speak to audiences of all generations, confirming the innovative and revolutionary strength of Donizetti’s poetics.
Three Operas at the Donizetti Theatre
Three titles will therefore be staged at the Donizetti Theatre. Two of them debuted in Naples, Il diluvio universale (1830) and Alfredo il Grande (1823), while the third – Il piccolo compositore di musica – is a work by Johann Simon Mayr, the first stage of a multi-year project designed for Bottega Donizetti.
Contemporary art breaks into opera in the year of Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture. The setting for the experiment that brings the Donizetti Theatre Foundation and the GAMeC together in Bergamo for the first time is Donizetti’s Il diluvio universale, an opera with a sacred subject composed in 1830 for the Real Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. At the core of the libretto by Domenico Gilardoni, the biblical events are intertwined with the personal feelings of the main characters, and the final cataclysm becomes the starting point for an articulate reflection on one of the most topical themes of our time: the sustainability of the human footprint on planet earth, in line with the thematic area “The city of nature” of the Capital of Culture project. On the podium Riccardo Frizza, while the project, live direction and costumes are by MASBEDO with visual dramaturgy by Mariano Furlani and sets by 2050+. An artistic duo founded in 1999 by Nicolò Massazza and Iacopo Bedogni, MASBEDO is renowned for the creation of videos that become an essential part of performances and installations, with highly successful collaborations in the musical field. In Italy they are regarded as some of the most important video artists and innovators in the field of contemporary art, and their works of art have been acquired by museums and private foundations. The story features Noè and his family in a web of sentimental affairs, rivalries and jealousies that ends with a characteristic symphonic page representing the flood. Therefore, the multi-disciplinary language of MASBEDO seemed appropriate for enhancing the complex network of metaphors and symbols that underlies this rare and precious “tragic-sacred action.” The edition for the Naples 1830 version that will be seen on stage is edited by Edoardo Cavalli, a scholar in the scientific department of the Donizetti Theatre Foundation. The main voices are Nahuel Di Pierro (Noè), Enea Scala (Cadmo) and Giuliana Gianfaldoni (Sela), Nicolò Donini (Jafet) and the students of Bottega Donizetti 2023. Stage movements are by Sabino Civilleri and Manuela Lo Sicco; light design is by Fiammetta Baldiserri.
For the #donizetti200 cycle, with which the festival stages a Donizetti title that turns two centuries old, we will have the heroic opera Alfredo il Grande (Donizetti Theatre 19 and 24 November), with a new edition based on the opera’s sources, edited by Edoardo Cavalli and as a reference to the Italian Capital of Culture 2023 thematic area “The city of hidden treasures.” This work belongs to that group of operas in which Donizetti experimented and refined his compositional means, measuring them against various operatic genres. One of the distinguishing elements is the imposing presence of a band on stage, witnessing the score’s encomiastic aims. Alfredo follows the staging of Chiara e Serafina less than a year later but focuses on a historical subject, namely the vicissitudes of the eponymous medieval English ruler – revered as a saint by Catholics and Anglicans alike – whose importance is due to his wide-ranging culture, support of education and legislation, as well as the crucial role he played in every sphere of civil and religious life. The libretto is by Andrea Leone Tottola, who had previously worked as “dramatic poet” for Rossini (also for Mosé in Egitto, which is the closest reference for Il diluvio universale). Alfredo il Grande will be staged in semi-scenic form and will be directed by Stefano Simone Pintor; the conductor is Corrado Rovaris from Bergamo, a recurring musician in the festival programme. The sets are by Gregorio Zurla, the costumes by Giada Masi, the lights by Fiammetta Baldiserri, the video design by Virginio Levrio. In the main roles Antonino Siragusa (Alfredo) and Gilda Fiume (Amalia), Valeria Girardello (Enrichetta), Lodovico Filippo Ravizza (Eduardo) and Adolfo Corrado (Atkins).
The third title at the Donizetti Theatre for one evening only (2 December) is Il piccolo compositore di musica by Johann Simon Mayr, the first stage of a multi-year project curated by Francesco Micheli with the students of Bottega Donizetti and those of Politecnico delle Arti “G. Donizetti – G. Carrara.” Alberto Zanardi will be on the podium; the light design is by Alessandro Andreoli. Candida Mantica of the festival’s scientific department is working on the recovery of the score of this opera, which was staged on 13 September 1811 as the final recital of the “Lezioni Caritatevoli” (Charitable Lessons). In the spirit of the original farce, Micheli, together with Giorgio Pesenti, is preparing a version specially designed for the festival, aimed at highlighting today’s talents, the first stage of a work-in-progress that will develop over time. As on other similar occasions, Mayr, following an eighteenth-century formal model, stages the pupils of the “Lezioni Caritatevoli” themselves as they grapple with the staging of the final recital. Donizetti is the protagonist, ironically presented as a young aspiring composer convinced of his talent (famous lines read: “Vasta ho la mente, rapido l’ingegno | pronta la fantasia, e nel comporre | un fulmine son io”, “I have a broad mind, a quick wit, a ready imagination, and I’m lightning fast at composing”). Despite the comic tone, Mayr’s promotional intent is clear, as he truly believes in the abilities of his young pupil. Donizetti is joined by four fellow students in the role of themselves: Antonio Dolci, Giuseppe Manghenoni, Giuseppe Pontiroli and Antonio Tavecchi. From the musical point of view, this opera combines original sections and pre-existing pieces that the students are studying on stage. This project is in line with the Capital of Culture’s thematic area “Culture as cure.”
Lucie de Lammermoor at the Teatro Sociale
The Teatro Sociale (18 and 26 November, 1 December) we will stage Lucie de Lammermoor, the French version of Donizetti’s famous masterpiece, prepared for the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris, where it made its triumphant debut in 1839. The opera remained in the French repertoire throughout the nineteenth century and became a cornerstone of national culture, as demonstrated by the chapter of Madame Bovary set by Flaubert at the theatre in Rouen during a performance of Lucie. For this French version of Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti made some changes to the pre-existing score by modifying the recitatives, removing the secondary character of Alisa, eliminating Raimondo’s aria “Ah! Cedi, cedi, o più sciagure” in act two as well as his parts in Enrico’s cavatina “Cruda, funesta smania” in act one, and postponing a scene. He also replaced Lucia’s cavatina, “Regnava nel silenzio,” with “Que n’avons nous des ailes,” a translation of “Perché non ho del vento,” from his Rosmonda d’Inghilterra (1834). The libretto of Lucie was entrusted to Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz, who only in a few passages deviated from a literal translation of Cammarano’s Italian text, presumably with the aim of making it more suitable for the French stage. The opera will be staged by Jacopo Spirei, former student and assistant of the late Graham Vick and today one of the most sought-after Italian opera directors, who will emphasise the crudest aspects of the story also highlighted by Donizetti’s choices in the Parisian transposition; on the podium, the young Pierre Dumoussaud in his Italian debut, after several successes and recordings dedicated above all to the French Romantic repertoire. The sets are by Mauro Tinti, costumes by Agnese Rabatti and light design by Giuseppe Di Iorio. Caterina Sala (the acclaimed Adina in L’elisir d’amore in 2021) will interpret the role of Lucie, while Patrick Kabongo will be Edgard, Alex Duhamen will be Henri, and Antonio Mandrillo will be Gilbert (a “new” character, crucial in this French version of the opera). The performance is co-produced by the Teatro Comunale of Bologna. Donizetti’s masterpiece is linked to the Italian Capital of Culture main concept, “Enlightened City,” starting from the etymological connection between “Luce” (Light) and Lucia, as well as referring to the cult of Saint Lucy, which is very strong in Bergamo.
Previews on the Programme for Schools
Lucia di Lammermoor will also be the star of the 2023 projects for schools (which will be presented in detail in the next few weeks): this opera will also be presented at the Teatro Sociale in a participatory version (in Italian) directed by Manuel Renga – an expert in musical shows for children and young people – and dedicated to primary and lower secondary schools. Then the story of Lucia will be at the centre of a new show conceived by Renga again with Daniele Cortesi’s puppets. Last, secondary school students will start the school year by taking part in Lucia Off, a conference performance by Francesco Micheli, designed to reveal the points of contact between the feelings, emotions and difficulties of the young Scottish girl Lucia and today’s teenagers. Lucia Off, together with the previews of the festival’s operas, is the basis of the Opera Wow project, in collaboration with ATS (Agenzia di Tutela della Salute) of Bergamo and the Ufficio Scolastico Provinciale, in which opera becomes a tool to accompany students and their educators on the path of life with expression workshops and the creation of a piece inspired by a melody by Donizetti.
Donizetti Revolution vol. 9 at the Donizetti Theatre on 5 May
It has now become a tradition to have the 2023 activities dedicated to Gaetano Donizetti officially start with the Donizetti Revolution, scheduled at the Donizetti Theatre on Friday 5 May at 8 p.m.. Conceived and realised by the artistic director Francesco Micheli in collaboration with Alberto Mattioli, dramaturg of the festival, this ninth edition will feature bass Nahuel Di Pierro (who will be Noè in Il diluvio universale for the 2023 festival), soprano Marilena Ruta and baritone Eduardo Martínez (a former student and a new participant of the Bottega) with pianist Hana Lee. There will also be Paolo Fabbri, Riccardo Frizza and… Gustave Flaubert. The presenting partner of the evening is Automha. For the occasion, several high schools in the Bergamo area have been involved, whose students have created some video contributions that will be part of the performance and will be available on the social media profiles of the Donizetti Opera. Moreover, a group of about fifty students will play a significant role in the event. “Donizetti is an art revolutionary, the inventor of Italian music Romanticism,” says Alberto Mattioli, “always ahead of his time, a brilliant creator of stories we still believe in because they are emotional dynamite exploding in our hearts and minds. Revolutionizing the revolutionary, putting him in touch with our present, explaining that his stories are not old but eternal is the task of the Festival. Donizetti is not a reassuring icon of the past but a stimulus for the present, a contemporary man who for two centuries has been explaining to us how we are, and why. But who has also explained us that discovering all this together with him is a great show, a celebration and a joy. Revolutionary.”
Performances will start at 8 p.m. on weekdays and at 3.30 p.m. on Sundays.