Mozart’s Rival Returns to La Scala in a Double Bill With Puccini

It could come as a shock that Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, one of many world’s most storied homes, opened its doorways for the primary time on Aug. three, 1778, with the premiere of “Europa Riconosciuta” (“Europe Revealed”) by none apart from Antonio Salieri, typically portrayed as Mozart’s rival.

Salieri is slowly rising from centuries of oblivion. Over the previous 15 years, vocal superstars like Cecilia Bartoli and Diana Damrau have recorded the Italian composer’s arias. In 2004, “Europa Riconosciuta” was chosen to reopen La Scala after a serious renovation, in a high-profile manufacturing carried out by Riccardo Muti, the home’s music director on the time.

In July, Salieri is returning to La Scala with a brand new manufacturing of his one-act opera “Prima la Musica e Poi le Parole” (“First the music after which the phrases”). It is half of a unusual doubleheader with Giacomo Puccini’s screwball comedy “Gianni Schicchi,” a few schemer who steals a useless man’s fortune, seen in Woody Allen’s Los Angeles Opera manufacturing from 2008. Both brief works will likely be carried out by Adam Fischer, a Hungarian maestro (and brother of the conductor Ivan Fischer), and each will star Ambrogio Maestri, an Italian baritone.

Given such lavish manufacturing values, one won’t anticipate that this Salieri-Puccini one-two punch is, in truth, a venture of La Scala’s academy, Accademia Teatro alla Scala, which has existed in some kind for about 200 years. Nowadays, it trains roughly 1,600 worldwide college students ages 19 to 30 in each side of the performing arts, from administration to set design to singing. Alexander Pereira, La Scala’s inventive director, who can also be chairman of the Accademia, urged the quirky double function.

Nor will this be the primary time that Salieri’s one-act opera has shared such illustrious firm.

The 1786 premiere of “Prima la Musica,” on the Orangery of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, was the scene of certainly one of historical past’s wittiest musical contests. On Feb. 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had Italian opera and German Singspiel — the preferred musical theater genres of the day — duke it out for the good thing about royal company. A lavish gala was ready, and phases had been arrange at every finish of the Orangery. In one nook was Salieri with “Prima la Musica”; within the different was none apart from Mozart, together with his comedy “Der Schauspieldirektor” (The Impresario).

“It wasn’t a contest like Mascagni and Leoncavallo,” stated the director of “Prima la Musica,” Grischa Asagaroff, referring to the composers of “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “Pagliacci,” which had been each written for an Italian music writer that sponsored a contest for brand spanking new one-act operas within the late 19th century. Even although these two operas, each concise melodramas about love and homicide, weren’t initially meant to be carried out collectively, lately they kind opera’s most enduring double invoice.

“What the emperor did was a strategy to present the viewers: This is the brand new German fashion of opera, and that is the standard Italian approach,” Mr. Asagaroff continued.

“They didn’t do the 2 items on the similar time, however one after the opposite,” the German director clarified, to dispel any attainable false impression that the emperor’s musical gala resembled the plot of Richard Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos.”

A rehearsal of “Gianni Schicchi,” which will even star Mr. Maestri.CreditFondazione Teatro alla Scala

In that 1916 work, a collaboration with the playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal, a rich and capricious nobleman orders severe opera and a burlesque leisure be carried out concurrently, in order that fireworks can begin within the backyard on the stroke of 9.

Mr. Asagaroff stated that bringing “Prima la Musica” to La Scala was Mr. Pereira’s longstanding ambition as inventive director. “Pereira likes this outdated stuff so much, and he thinks it’s higher to do it with ‘Schicchi,’ which is a vital piece and which has a big singing solid,” Mr. Asagaroff defined. He added that he would have appreciated to direct “Schicchi” himself, however that Mr. Allen’s manufacturing had already been chosen.

Is it formidable to go up towards the legendary filmmaker? “Yes, certain,” Mr. Asagaroff replied.

“It’s a problem, as a result of the piece just isn’t as spectacular or as often called ‘Schicchi,’” he added. “It doesn’t have an aria like ‘O Mio Babbino Caro,’ which is universally recognized even by individuals who know nothing about opera,” a reference to Puccini’s lyric showstopper during which Schicchi’s daughter persuades her father to win her a dowry so she will marry the person she loves.

“So it’s a problem for me to make one thing out of this piece,” Mr. Asagaroff stated, including that his manufacturing would eschew realism for a fantastical set stuffed with oversize devices. “It has to make it humorous and interesting — particularly all of the recitatives,” he stated, referring to the rapid-fire dialogues set to harpsichord accompaniment between the arias.

“Mamma mia, the recitatives, at all times the recitatives!” cried Mr. Maestri, the Scala manufacturing’s star, backstage after a current efficiency in Munich of “Il Trittico,” Puccini’s trilogy of one-act operas first carried out on the Metropolitan Opera in 1918.

The title function in “Schicchi,” the trilogy’s comedian third half, is without doubt one of the Italian baritone’s calling playing cards. That night in Munich, nonetheless, he had additionally been singing the lead in “Il Tabarro,” the atmospheric tragedy at first. Full performances of “Trittico” are uncommon, and “Schicchi,” a preferred brief work, is usually paired with “Tabarro” or “Suor Angelica,” the trilogy’s second, tear-jerking installment.

“Schicchi” often additionally winds up on applications with works by different composers, like Alexander Zemlinsky’s “A Florentine Tragedy” or Bela Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle.” For occasion, the Los Angeles Opera’s 2015 revival of Mr. Allen’s manufacturing introduced it alongside a brand new “Pagliacci” by the filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli.

The manufacturing at La Scala would be the first time Mr. Maestri sings “Schicchi” along with a non-“Trittico” opera. Despite the problem of studying an unfamiliar rating, he stated he was wanting ahead to showing onstage with the academy’s proficient college students, dressed as Salieri himself.

He is eagerly awaiting a go to by Mr. Allen to Milan, the place the filmmaker is to oversee the ultimate rehearsal of “Schicchi” on June 27.

“I’ll meet him,” he stated. “How thrilling.”

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