TCBO: PREMIERE OF THE NEW DIPTYCH COMBINING PURCELL AND WEILL

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by Opera Charm Team
March 14, 2024

Danielle De Niese stars in Dido and Aeneas and Die sieben Todsünden performed together in the new production designed by Daniele Abbado.

The performance, co-produced with Fondazione I Teatri di Reggio Emilia and Fondazione Haydn di Bolzano e Trento, features Marco Angius on the podium.

On stage at the Comunale Nouveau from 16 March at 6 pm - also live on Rai Radio3 - to 21 March.

BIOGRAPHY

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INTERVIEW

The baroque opera of high dramaturgical intensity Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell and the twentieth-century ballet with incisive satire Die sieben Todsünden by Kurt Weill on a text by Bertolt Brecht make up the unprecedented diptych proposed in the 2024 Opera Season of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. The performance, co-produced with Fondazione I Teatri di Reggio Emilia and Fondazione Haydn di Bolzano e Trento, will be premiered at the Comunale Nouveau starting on Saturday 16 March at 6.00 p.m. – also broadcast live on Rai Radio3 – with repeats until Thursday 21 March.

The direction is entrusted to Daniele Abbado, who tells how the project juxtaposes two works about cities: ‘the mythological city in Dido, the prophecy about the future of cities in Brecht-Weill. We juxtapose Purcell’s unfinished opera with the opera-ballet of Brecht and Weill fleeing Nazi Germany. […] Dramaturgically, the link lives in the fact that, albeit in very different ways, we are dealing with the relationship between the individual and the social group with which he or she is forced to relate’. In Dido and Aeneas, Abbado finds connections with the present: ‘Witches are equivalent to haters who come out of nowhere inventing slanders and aiming at the destruction of one or more people, in our case Dido’. In the Seven Deadly Sins, compared to Purcell’s Carthage we enter different American metropolises. “We are faced with a reversal of the meaning of the seven vices of the Christian religion,” says Abbado, “which in the case of Brecht-Weill’s re-interpretation are transformed into obstacles to personal enrichment.

Brecht has a very clear idea of the new world where man must somehow become his own capitalist and in order to succeed he must choose to sell what he possesses: body, personality, honour’. Generous, in this title, is the use of costumes, as indicated in the libretto: in fact, we move from the world of cabaret to that of cinema to the circus. The sets and lights of the diptych are by Angelo Linzalata, the costumes by Giada Masi and the choreography by Simona Bucci.

On the podium is the conductor Marco Angius who, speaking of Dido and Aeneas, recalls that it is ‘an opera-enigma, as the original autograph score is still missing. The sources that have handed it down to us are more than a century later. From this condition, which is quite unusual, musically speaking, a case was born, an absent body with an authenticity that has never been revealed and that demands an innovative rather than conservative restoration: thus Dido, emblem of an unattainable past, must be relocated as an artefact, ancient but also current, that stands out against the dark backgrounds of contemporary musical restlessness’. Since the original score of Dido and Aeneas has never come down to us (two versions are known, and both are incomplete), Angius and Abbado decided to look to the world of contemporary music to insert some graft, They found interesting affinities in three of Dido’s choruses written in 1958 by Luigi Nono (a composer whose birth centenary falls this year) on texts by Ungaretti – placed at the beginning of the opera and at the end of the first and second acts – and in the instrumental introduction from Giacinto Scelsi’s Okanagon, a 1968 microtonal trio for harp, tam-tam and double bass, inserted in the opening scene of the sorceress (act 1, 2).

Starring in both titles – respectively in the roles of Dido (a role she is tackling for the first time) and Anna I (which she has just sung in concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner and which she will now perform on stage in Bologna) – is the Australian soprano Danielle De Niese, an artist with a strong personality who now lives in the United States, described by the New York Times as “Opera’s Coolest Soprano”, making her debut at the Comunale. The cast of Dido and Aeneas is completed by Francesco Salvadori as Aeneas, Mariam Battistelli as Belinda, Patricia Daniela Fodor as the Second Woman, Bruno Taddia as the Sorceress, Marco Miglietta as the First Witch, Andrea Giovannini as the Second Witch and the Sailor, and Paola Valentina Molinari as the Spirit. Maestro on harpsichord is Nicoletta Mezzini, on the theorbo and baroque guitar is Alberto Mesirca, on cello Roberto Cima and on double bass Gianandrea Pignoni. Die sieben Todsünden also features Irene Ferrara as Anna II and the male voices of Marco Miglietta, Andrea Giovannini, Nicolò Ceriani and Andrea Concetti as The Family. The dancers are Matilde Bignamini, Luca Campanella, Lucia Cinquegrana, Lucas Delfino, Erika Rombaldoni and Danilo Smedile. The Orchestra and Choir – involved in Purcell’s opera and prepared by Gea Garatti Ansini – are those of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

The greatest English musician of the Baroque era, in c. 1689. Henry Purcell gave birth to the three-act opera Dido and Aeneas, with a libretto by Nahum Tate based on Tate’s five-act tragedy Brutus of Alba, or The Enchanted Lovers and Virgil’s Aeneid. The story sees the Trojan prince Aeneas as the guest of the Queen of Carthage Dido. Their cursed love, victim of the machinations of an evil spirit and witches, will lead to Aeneas’ departure and Dido’s death.

A German musician naturalised in the United States, in 1933 Kurt Weill performed in Paris the satirical ballet with song consisting of a prologue, seven parts and an epilogue Die sieben Todsünden, created as a clear denunciation of humanity corrupted by capitalism. The production, by George Balanchine and Caspar Neher, marked the last collaboration with Brecht. This is the first time that the Teatro Comunale di Bologna is presenting this opera in stage form.

The performances will be preceded – about 45 minutes before the start – by a short presentation of the opera in the Foyer of the Comunale Nouveau.

Tickets – from 15 to 100 euro – are on sale online through Vivaticket and at the Teatro Comunale ticket office, open Tuesday to Friday from 12 to 6 p.m., on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Largo Respighi, 1); on performance days at the Comunale Nouveau (Piazza della Costituzione, 4) from one hour before and up to 15 minutes after the start.

On stage at the Comunale Nouveau from 16 March at 6 pm – also live on Rai Radio3 – to 21 March

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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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