Teatro Carlo Felice: I due Foscari


by Alex Suciu
April 18, 2023



The sixth title in Verdi’s catalog, made during the so-called “galley years,” I due Foscari debuted at the Teatro Argentina in Rome on November 3rd, 1844. The premiere, as Verdi himself reported, turned out to be “a half-fiasco,” due partly to an unprepared vocal cast and partly to the limitations of the chosen subject. Yet at first Verdi had been enthusiastic about that “bel dramma, bellissimo, arcibellissimo”-that was how he described it to Piave. The drama is built entirely on the contrast between paternal and homeland love of Doge Francesco Foscari and the woes of his son Jacopo, unjustly accused of murder and plotting against the Republic of Venice. The opera is distinguished by some new and experimental compositional solutions. The orchestration, for example, becomes more subtle and accurate, with a prominent place reserved for the harp and the woodwinds that restore an elegiac and nocturnal instrumental tint perfectly in keeping with the image of Venice described by Byron; the act endings end without the traditional stretto; and reminiscence motifs appear systematically; in fact, each character is associated with a musical motif that reappears, like a calling card, each time the protagonists return to the scene.

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The Carlo Felice Theatre in Genoa hosted from the 31st of March through the 8th of April a new production of I due Foscari, Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic drama that revolves around the interiorized conflict between duty and paternal feelings, and although the historical setting is quite fix, 15th century Venice, the substance of the subject at hand may be regarded as a perennial human struggle.

The first aspect noted from the beginning of the show is the scenography. The director of this production is Alvis Hermanis. He made the scene look minimalistcally clean, with very little ornaments or even objects: there were the symbolic venetian lions, chairs, and even in the last scene there was only a baldaquin in Francesco’s room. Other than these, there were video elements projected, done by Ineta Sipunova, mainly of the city of Venice. They were very well integrated, looking very much like real paintings or engravings, appearing and changing seamlessly, and respecting the colours of the scenography, which were earthlike pastels. This lack of ornamentation makes way for the deep subject matter of I due Foscari to take center-stage and be explored through the artistry of the interpreters. The whole show left the impression that everything that happened was metaphorical, set in diaphanous surroundings, just like Jacopo’s hallucination at the beginning of the second act, like a dream.

The role of Lucrezia was entrusted to Angela Meade. Her voice was very consistent and continuously equal in its expressivity. She made use both of its power, and of its versatility, executing very well-balanced nuances from pianissimo through to fortissimo, and making use of her impressive messa di voce. She built her vocality according to the character, as an honest and straight-forward figure, and a strong presence, but without overplaying this aspect; very rightly so, as Lucrezia could not save her husband in the end… Fabio Sartori interpreted Jacopo Foscari. Although it is not the lengthiest, nor is it the most complex tenor role in the verdian repertoire, Sartori managed to mark its essence and instill the sense of “pity” into the audience’s perception, which further potentiated his father’s moments of despair towards the end of the opera, and the impact these feelings had on the audience. His singing was on-point, too, stark, but not overly heroic. From the first contact with Jacopo, in the aria Dal più remoto esilio, when he exalts at the sight of his Venice, giving the slightest thread of hope to cling to, and up to his leaving into exile, he left the impression of the upright and innocent character.

By far, the most complex role in this opera is entrusted to Francesco Foscari, the Doge, and Jacopo’s father, which in this production was Franco Vassallo. The “burden” of this role is the highlighting of the conflict between keeping the sense of justice (reason) and one’s fatherly love (feeling). He built Francesco Foscari’s character with a very interesting crescendo, starting out rather mellow, in sync with the uncertainty of the result of the subsequent trial and Jacopo’s future, but getting more and more present both vocally and scenically, as the plot of The Ten to get rid of his son, coupled with the dichotomy that tears his soul – being the father of the one who is judged, and falsely accused, not being able to save him, because he respects his position, the doge – grow. This crescendo peaks after his finding out about the plot to get rid both of his son, and of him as a doge, into the aria Questa dunque è l’iniqua mercede and the last scene. His voice reflected the character very well, too: it was a full, imposing voice, worthy of the powerful status that the Doge has. Nonetheless, it also had that velvety quality to it which makes the character feel ever so human, and which allowed for that much-needed melancholic and sad touch, given the situation at hand. The stark applause and the intense shouts of Bravo that he got in this point are testimony to his artistry.

The “villain” Loredano was interpreted by Antonio di Matteo, whose scenical presence, through his deep and ample voice revealed exactly that, a well-grounded backbiter.

The ballet dancers, who were from the Balletto Fondazione Formazione Danza e Spettacolo “For Dance” ETS, under the choreography of Alla Sigalova were of a very sleek presence, used not only for dance numbers, but all throughout the opera during the ensembles.

The conductor was Renato Palumbo, who guided the show musically in a masterful manner from all points of view, whether it be the suggestive nuances in the orchestra or the chorus, or the unity between singers, chorus and orchestra. He was precise, rigorous, but, at the same time, warm and attentive towards the substance of the music.

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.


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