Catone in Utica, waiting for the premiere in Ferrara. After almost 300 years, Vivaldi’s opera makes its debut on March 17th at the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara

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by OPERA Charm Team
March 7, 2023

One of the greatest compositions of Vivaldi’s maturity, Catone in Utica, premiered in Verona in 1737. Vivaldi tried to bring it to Ferrara: this is testified by a letter sent to his patron, Marquis Bentivoglio. The composer died in Vienna only four years later. It will be staged on 17 and 19 March, 286 years later.

BIOGRAPHY

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INTERVIEW

After the success of Il Farnace, Teatro Comunale di Ferrara continues its path of rediscovering Antonio Vivaldi’s rarest and most evocative works with Catone in Utica on stage on March 17th and 19th, 2023.

The vocal cast, in addition to tenor Valentino Buzza in the title role, includes Arianna Vendittelli (Cesare), Miriam Albano (Emilia), Valeria Girardello (Marzia), Chiara Brunello (Fulvio) and Valeria La Grotta (Arbace). As was already the case for the ‘twin’ composition of Farnace, performed again at the Teatro Abbado in December 2021, the new production of the Fondazione Teatro Comunale di Ferrara confirms Federico Maria Sardelli conducting the Orchestra Accademia Barocca dello Spirito Santo and Marco Bellussi directing. The sets are by Matteo Paoletti Franzato, the costumes by Elisa Cobello and the lights by Marco Cazzola. Video interventions will be by Creativite.

Catone in Utica is one of Antonio Vivaldi’s last operas. It was first performed at the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona in 1737, and although only Act II and Act III are known, the work is considered among the greatest compositions of his maturity.

Vivaldi attempted, in vain, to bring Catone in Utica to Ferrara, as is testified by a letter addressed to Marquis Guido Bentivoglio d’Aragona, in which he praises the Veronese performance: “My opera is on the top of the world,” wrote the Venetian composer to his Ferrara patron, “and I hope you would find it sumptuous. Vivaldi would die in absolute poverty in Vienna just four years later, in 1741. Now, with the desire to re-evaluate Italian Baroque opera production, especially Vivaldi’s, after almost 300 years, it will be performed at the Teatro Comunale Claudio Abbado.”

The story described in Pietro Metastasio’s verses is set in the wake of the Pompeian turn that pitted Caesar against Cato. The story, however, is a far cry from the bloody battles of Pharsalus and Tapso. The refined and elegant stage set proposes a villa by the sea, perhaps the private retreat of Aemilia, Pompey’s widow and a central figure in the events unfolding. The contradictory clash and contest between Cato and Caesar take place on a much more civilised playing field, in which the weakness of a man, the Uticense, who cannot manage his own decline, increasingly emerges. The scenes and costumes synthesise classical and contemporary references, between the elegance of line and crudity of cut, frame and viaticum of the universal drama of private feelings intertwined with political becoming.

The incompleteness of Vivaldi’s score does not harm the understanding of the plot, which in fact, immediately gets to the heart of the clash. Far from wanting to give a reconstruction – always a risky operation and not without arbitrariness – Marco Bellussi and Federico Maria Sardelli, among the greatest experts on the Venetian composer, preferred to present the opera to the public as it has come down to us, certain of its strong expressive charge.

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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.

BIANCA L. NICA

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