Calendar
ALL SHOWS ARE PERFORMED AT THE MONTE CARLO OPERA except those in November
November 2023
Thursday
02 November
20 H

Choral concert
Subscription Galas
Subscription Soirées
Messa da requiem
Verdi
Sunday
19 November
19 H (by invitation from the Palais)

Staged Concert
Caruso à Monaco
Wednesday
22 November
20 H

Opera
Subscription Galas
Don Carlo
Verdi
Friday
24 November
20 H

Opera
Subscription Soirées
Don Carlo
Verdi
Sunday
26 November
15 H

Opera
Subscription Matinées
Don Carlo
Verdi
December 2023
Saturday
16 December
20 H (Gala)

Musical
Subscription Galas
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Sunday
17 December
15 H

Musical
Subscription Matinées
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Tuesday
19 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Wednesday
20 December
20 H

Musical
Subscription Soirées
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Thursday
21 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Friday
22 December
15 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Friday
22 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Saturday
23 December
15 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Saturday
23 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Monday
25 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Tuesday
26 December
15 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Tuesday
26 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Wednesday
27 December
15 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Wednesday
27 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Friday
29 December
15 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Friday
29 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Saturday
30 December
15 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Saturday
30 December
20 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Sunday
31 December
15 H

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
Sunday
31 December
20 H (masquerade night)

Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Lloyd Webber
January 2024
Wednesday
24 January
19 H (Gala)

Opera
Subscription Galas
Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Haendel
Friday
26 January
19 H

Opera
Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Haendel
Sunday
28 January
15 H

Opera
Subscription Matinées
Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Haendel
Monday
29 January
20 H

Choral concert
Subscription Galas
Ein deutsches Requiem
Brahms
Tuesday
30 January
19 H

Opera
Subscription Soirées
Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Haendel
February 2024
Friday
23 February
20 H (Gala)

Opera
Subscription Galas
Cavalleria rusticana & Gianni Schicchi
Mascagni & Puccini
Saturday
24 February
20 H

Aria Recital
Subscription Soirées
Rolando Villazón
Sunday
25 February
15 H

Opera
Subscription Matinées
Cavalleria rusticana & Gianni Schicchi
Mascagni & Puccini
Tuesday
27 February
20 H

Opera
Subscription Soirées
Cavalleria rusticana & Gianni Schicchi
Mascagni & Puccini
Thursday
29 February
20 H

Opera
Cavalleria rusticana & Gianni Schicchi
Mascagni & Puccini
March 2024
Saturday
23 March
17 H

Recital
Cecilia Bartoli & Lang Lang
Sunday
24 March
15 H

Opera
Subscription Matinées
La Fille du régiment
Donizetti
Tuesday
26 March
20 H (Gala)

Opera
Subscription Galas
La Fille du régiment
Donizetti
Thursday
28 March
20 H

Opera
Subscription Soirées
La Fille du régiment
Donizetti
Saturday
30 March
20 H

Opera
La Fille du régiment
Donizetti
April 2024
Sunday
07 April
19 H

Staged Concert
Subscription Galas
Their Master’s Voice
Malkovich - Bartoli
Mascagni & Puccini Cavalleria
rusticana
& Gianni
Schicchi
23, 25, 27 & 29 February 2023 Opera
Conductor Speranza Scappucci
Director Grischa Asagaroff

Mascagni & Puccini Cavalleria rusticana & Gianni Schicchi

Opera
Friday 23 February 2024 - 20 h (Gala)
Sunday 25 February 2024 - 15 h
Tuesday 27 February 2024 - 20 h
Thursday 29 February 2024 - 20 h
Opéra de Monte-Carlo

Melodramma in one act 
Music by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)
Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti et Guido Menasci, based on the short story of the same name by Giovanni Verga
Premiere : Teatro Costanzi, Roma, 17 may 1890


Comic opera in one act, from’Il trittico
Music by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Libretto by Giovacchino Forzano, based on one episode of the Chant XXX de L’Enfer (La Divine Comédie) by Dante
Premiere : Metropolitan Opera, New York, 14 december 1918 

New production

Since innovation is not a crime, these two works, which are not often seen together, will be the object of a new production by director Grischa Asagaroff: Cavalleria rusticana, the founding opus of the verismo movement and Mascagni’s greatest success, will precede Gianni Schicchi, the third opera of the Trittico cycle, Puccini’s late masterpiece. Both works were written by composers who shared the same stages and a similar idea of the operatic narrative, and each of whom provided a striking contrast between the two faces of Italy. On one side, the fiery Sicily described in Verga’s short story, where passions are as intense as the sun that crushes its villages, and its inherent fatality that leads to death. On the other side, the refinement of Dante’s medieval and popular, elegant and spiritual city of Florence, where the vis comica colours each instant with infectious humour. In short, two operas theatrically inspired and filled with memorable lyrical flights. Under the direc-tion of Speranza Scappucci, the Italian conductor whose career is rising rapidly, two casts will work unfailingly to render justice to the extreme tension of Mascagni’s music and the agility of Puccini’s score.

Video

1 ©OMC - Cassette Vidéo
Production Team
Conductor | Speranza Scappucci
Director | Grischa Asagaroff
Sets & costumes | Luigi Perego
Lighting design | Gigi Saccomandi
Choirmaster | Stefano Visconti
Assistant director | Heiko Hentschel
Set designer assistant | Luca Filaci
Repetitor | David Zobel
Cast/Cavalleria rusticana
Santuzza | Maria José Siri
Lola | Annunziata Vestri
Turiddu | Yusif Eyvazov
Alfio | Peter Kalman
Lucia | Elena Zilio
Speaking role | Federica Spatola
CHOIR OF THE OPÉRA DE MONTE-CARLO

Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo

Académie de musique Rainier III
Artists' biographies
Cast/Gianni Schicchi
Gianni Schicchi | Nicola Alaimo
Lauretta | Nina Minasyan
Zita | Elena Zilio
Rinuccio | Edgardo Rocha
Gherardo | Enrico Casari
Betto di Signa | Giovanni Romeo
Simone | Giovanni Furlanetto
Marco | Eugenio di Lieto
La Ciesca | Rosa Bove
Maestro Spinelloccio | Matteo Peirone
Ser Amantio di Nicolao | Fabrice Alibert
Nella | Caterina Di Tonno
Gherardino | Egon Rostagni (25.02, 29.02) / Chloé Macchi (23.02, 27.02)
Guccio | Przemyslaw Baranek
Pinellino | Luca Vianello
CHOIR OF THE OPÉRA DE MONTE-CARLO

Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo

Académie de musique Rainier III
Artists' biographies
Artistic and technical teams

PRODUCTION TEAM

Conductor
Speranza Scappucci

Director
Grischa Asagaroff

Assistant director
Heiko Hentschel

Sets & costumes
Luigi Perego

Assistant sets
Luca Filaci

Lighting design
Gigi Saccomandi

Repetitor
David Zobel

Choirmaster
Stefano Visconti

SOLoISTS

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA

Santuzza
Maria José Siri

Lola
Annunziata Vestri

Turiddu
Yusif Eyvazov

Alfio
Peter Kalman

Lucia
Elena Zilio

Rôle parlé
Federica Spatola

GIANNI SCHICCHI

Gianni Schicchi
Nicola Alaimo

Lauretta
Nina Minasyan

Zita
Elena Zilio

Rinuccio
Edgardo Rocha

Gherardo
Enrico Casari

Betto di Signa
Giovanni Romeo

Simone
Giovanni Furlanetto

Marco
Eugenio di Lieto

La Ciesca
Rosa Bove

Maestro Spinelloccio
Matteo Peirone

Ser Amantio di Nicolao
Fabrice Alibert

Nella
Caterina Di Tonno

Gherardino
Egon Rostagni / Chloé Macchi

Guccio
Przemyslaw Baranek

Pinellino
Luca Vianello

FIGURATION
Olivier Ardain
Heathcliff Bonnet
Sophie Boursier
Adrian Cerou
Lisa Chirol
Guillaume Gallo Manrique
Nicolas Houssin
Arnaud Jouan
Benjamin Le Duff
Nicolas Leroy
Alain Louis-Jacquet
Stephane Martin
Laurence Meini
Sophie Payan
Artem Ustinov
Vincent Van Heghe
Nicolas Vitale

CHORUS OF CHILDREN of the ACADEMIE DE MUSIQUE RAINIER III

Choirmaster
Bruno Habert

Inès BEAUVOIS
Maiya FABRY SOULIER
Leane FOURGON
Francesca GERE BATTAGLIA
Mathilde GRINDA
Léa GUILLERET
Chloé MACCHI
Egon ROSTAGNI
Yiana SFEIR
Rosalia SZÜTS
Sevan VERDOYAN
Thalia VERDOYAN

CHORUS OF THE OPÉRA DE MONTE-CARLO

Choirmater
Stefano Visconti

Pianist assistant to the choirmaster & consultant for the musical organisation
Aurelio Scotto

Chorus manager & librarian
Colette Audat

Sopranos I
Galia BAKALOV
Luisa Maria BERTOLI*
Antonella CESARIO
Fiorella DI LUCA*
Chiara IAIA
Giovanna MINNITI
Felicity MURPHY
Biagia PUCCIO*
Erica Rondini*
Ilenia TOSATTO*
Paola VIARA-VALLE

Sopranos II
Rossella ANTONACCI
Valérie MARRET
Gaëlle MEGUERDIJIAN*
Letizia PIANIGIANI
Laura Maria ROMO CONTRERAS
VITTORIA GIACOBAZZI

Mezzosopranos
Teresa BRAMWELL-DAVIES
Erica CORTESE*
Géraldine MELAC
Suma MELLANO
Alessandra MEOZZI*
Federica SPATOLA

Altos
Cecilia BERNINI*
ORNELLA CORVI
Maria-Elisabetta DE GIORGI
Matilde LAZZARONI*
Carla MATTIOLI*
Catia PIZZI
Paola SCALTRITI
Rosa TORTORA
Simona TOTELECAN*

Tenors I
Walter BARBARIA
Matthew BRIDLE*
Lorenzo CALTAGIRONE
Jaime Andrés CANTO NAVARRO*
Domenico CAPPUCCIO
Vincenzo DI NOCERA
Thierry DIMEO
Caio DURAN PREVIATTI*
Nicolo LA FARCIOLA
Sergio MARTELLA*

Tenors II
Halil Ufuk ASLAN*
Andrea CIVETTA*
Gianni COSSU
Pasquale FERRARO
Benoît GUNALONS*
Fabio MARZI
Marco Angelo MÜLLER*
Adolfo SCOTTO DI LUZIO
Salvatore TAIELLO

Baritones
Fabio BONAVITA
Vincenzo CRISTOFOLI
Daniele DEL BUE
Armando NAPOLETANO*
Luca VIANELLO

Basses
Andrea ALBERTOLLI
Przemyslaw BARANEK
Thomas EPSTEIN*
Hugues GEORGES*
Paolo MARCHINI
Edgardo RINALDI
Matthew THISTLETON
Giuseppe ZEMA*

*additional chorus members for performances of Cavalleria rusticana & Gianni Schicchi

ORCHESTRE PHILHARMONIQUE DE MONTE-CARLO

Artistic and musical director
KAZUKI YAMADA

Violins I
David Lefèvre
Liza Kerob
Sibylle Duchesne
Ilyoung Chae
Diana Mykhalevych
Gabriel Milito
Sorin Turc
Mitchell Huang
Thierry Bautz
Zhang Zhang
Isabelle Josso
Morgan Bodinaud
Milena Legourska
Jae-Eun Lee
Adela Urcan
NN

Violins II
Peter Szüts
Nicolas Delclaud
Camille Ameriguian-Musco
Frédéric Gheorghiu
Nicolas Slusznis
Alexandre Guerchovitch
Gian Battista Ermacora
Laetitia Abraham
Katalin Szüts-Lukacs
Eric Thoreux
Raluca Hood-Marinescu
Andriy Ostapchuk
Sofija Radic
Hubert Touzery

Altos
François Méreaux
Federico Andres Hood
François Duchesne
Charles Lockie
Richard Chauvel
Mireille Wojciechowski
Sofia Timofeeva
Tristan Dely
Raphaël Chazal
Ying Xiong
Thomas Bouzy
Ruggero Mastrolorenzi

Cellos
Thierry Amadi
Delphine Perrone
Alexandre Fougeroux
Florence Riquet
Bruno Posadas
Thomas Ducloy
Patrick Bautz
Florence Leblond
Thibault Leroy
Caroline Roeland

Double basses
Matthias Bensmana
Tarik Bahous
Mariana Vouytcheva
Jenny Boulanger
Sylvain Rastoul
Eric Chapelle
Dorian Marcel
NN

Flutes
ANNE MAUGUE 
RAPHAËLLE TRUCHOT BARRAYA
DELPHINE HUEBER

Piccolo
MALCY GOUGET

Oboe
MATTHIEU BLOCH
MATTHIEU PETITJEAN 
MARTIN LEFÈVRE

English horn
Mathilde Rampelberg

Clarinets
MARIE-B. BARRIÈRE-BILOTE 
nn

E-flat clarinet
DIANA SAMPAIO

Bass clarinet
Véronique Audard

Bassoons
FRANCK LAVOGEZ 
ARTHUR MENRATH 
MICHEL MUGOT

Contrabassoon 
FRÉDÉRIC CHASLINE

Horns
PATRICK PEIGNIER 
ANDREA CESARI 
DIDIER FAVRE 
BERTRAND RAQUET 
LAURENT BETH 
DAVID PAUVERT

Trumpets
MATTHIAS PERSSON 
GÉRALD ROLLAND 
SAMUEL TUPIN 
RÉMY LABARTHE

Trombones
JEAN-YVES MONIER 
GILLES GONNEAU 
LUDOVIC MILHIET

Tuba
FLORIAN WIELGOSIK

Timpani & Percussions 
Julien Bourgeois
Mathieu Draux
Antoine Lardeau
Noé Ferro

Harp
SOPHIA STECKELER

STAGE STAFF

Stage director
Xavier Laforge

Main stage manager
Elisabetta Acella

Stage manager
Jérôme CHABREYRIE

Lighting manager
Ferxel Fourgon

Surtitling manager
Sarah Caussé

Children's stage managers
Charline Amayenc
Laëtitia Estiot

TECHNIQUE

Technical Director
Patrice Ayrault

Technical adviser
Nicola Schmid

Head machinists
Carlos Grenier
Olivier Kinoo

Deputy head machinists
Yann Moreau
Franck Satizelle

Decorative painter
Gérard Périchon

Stage technicians
Tom AYRAULT
Laurent BARCELO
Mathias CATALDI
Morgan DUBOUIL
Jean-François FARAUT
Jean-Philippe FARAUT
Axel GBEDO
Schama IMBERT
Frédéric LAUGIER
David M'BAPPÉ
Khalid NEGRAOUI

Chief electrician
Benoît Vigan

Deputy chief electrician
GAEL LE MAUX

Lighting technicians
Guillaume BREMOND
Grégory CAMPANELLA
Marine GENNA
Robin HEC
Felipe MANRIQUE
Laurent RENAUX

Pupitreurs
Dylan Castori
Grégory Masse

Head of audio/vidéo
Benjamin Grunler

Head prop maker
Audrey Moravec

Accessorists
Roland BIREN
Franck ESCOBAR
Charline TORRES
Emilie TRABONA 

Head of costumes
Eliane Mezzanotte

deputy head of costumes
Emilie Bouneau

Assistant wardrobe manager
Stéphanie PUTEGNAT

Dressers
Roxane AVELLO
Christian CALVIERA
Carla CAPUANO
Nadine CIMBOLINI
Lili FORTIN
Edwige GALLI
Julie JACQUET
Karinne MARTIN
Florence RINALDINO
Lauriane SENET
Véronique TETU

Chief wig and make-up
Déborah Nelson

Deputy chief wig and make-up
Alicia Bovis

Hairdressers
Jean-Pierre GALLINA
Agnès LOZANO
Corinne PAULÉ

Make-up artists
Sophie KILIAN
Francine RICHARD
Patricia ROCHWERG
Natasha SANNA

Ticket office

Box office manager
Virginie Hautot

Deputy box office manager
Jenna Brethenoux

Ticket service
Ambre Gaillard
Dima Khabout
Assmaa Moussalli

Synopsis

Cavalleria Rusticana

Easter Sunday, a Sicilian village square.

Turiddu, whose mother keeps a tavern in a Sicilian fishing village, was once engaged to Lola. But when Turiddu left to for the army Lola married Alfio, a carter. To console himself, when he returned from the army, Turiddu seduced and then married Santuzza. After a short period of happiness Turiddu’s love for her began to fade and his flame for Lola was rekindled.

Prelude

Turiddu is supposed to be in the neighbouring town buying wine for his mother, but this is just a pretext to join Lola during Alfio’s absence. Turiddu is heard serenading her in the distance (Siciliana “O Lola”).

One act

Dawn.

The curtain rises on the village square. We see the church and Mamma Lucia’s tavern.

The villagers sing the beauty of the dawn and its promise of love (Introductory Chorus “Gli aranci olezzano”).

Santuzza enters the tavern, very worried. She is looking for Turiddu who was seen near the house of Alfio and Lola. Lucia is not very cooperative (Scene “Dite, mamma Lucia”).

Alfio boasts about his profession and his faithful wife. The villagers join him in his enthusiasm (Alfio’s Scene with Chorus “Il cavallo scalpita”). Lucia praises his good humour; Alfio asks her for some wine. Lucia replies that Turiddu has in fact gone to a nearby town to fetch some more. Alfio is surprised and mentions that Turiddu had been seen near his cottage that morning. Santuzza gestures to Lucia to keep silent. The Alleluia and the Regina cœli ring out from the church and everyone goes off for the Easter service, except Santuzza and Lucia (Scene and Prayer “Beato voi, compar Alfio / Regina cœli / Inneggiamo”). Left alone with her daughter-in-law Lucia asks her why she bade her to remain silent. Santuzza confesses that Turiddu has rejected her and still loves Lola. Lucia is devastated and runs off to church to pray for God’s help for the young couple (Romance and Scene “Voi lo sapete, o mamma”).

Turiddu enters. He is surprised to see that Santuzza is not in church. He pretends that he has just returned from town, but Santuzza tells him that Alfio saw him in the village. He becomes angry at her accusations. After denying them he warns her not to become jealous (Scene “Tu qui, Santuzza?”).

Lola wanders in, completely untroubled, asking them if they have seen Alfio. She is surprised that they are not at church. She responds with irony to Santuzza’s insinuations, and she enters the church (Lola’s Ritornello “Fior di gaggiolo”).

Santuzza desperately tries to win back Turiddu’s love, but only succeeds in making him more angry. Finally he pushes her violently to the ground and dashes into the church, cursed by Santuzza (Duet “Ah! lo vedi”).

Alfio appears, worried at arriving late for mass. Santuzza reveals to him that Lola is having an affair with Turiddu. Alfio swears to seek bloody revenge (Duet “Oh! il Signore vi manda / Comare Santa”).

The faithful leave the church. Lucia walks across the stage and goes into the tavern (Symphonic Intermezzo).

The villagers return to their homes. Turiddu calls out to Lola, who is looking for Alfio, and invites her and the villagers to join him in a glass of wine at the tavern. He raises a toast to everyone, but his malicious “To love” is aimed at Lola (Scene, Chorus and Toast “A casa, a casa / Viva il vino spumeggiante”).

Alfio joins the joyful crowd, but refuses to drink with Turiddu. Sensing that there will be trouble some of the women move away. The two rivals defy each other. According to tradition Turiddu bites Alfio’s ear, a sign that he accepts Alfio’s challenge to a duel. Alfio heads off to the fields. Turiddu bids farewell to his mother and asks her to treat Santuzza as her daughter if he does not return. He runs off, leaving Lucia in despair. Santuzza enters and throws her arms around Lucia, while a woman cries out that Turiddu has been killed (Finale “A voi tutti salute / Mamma, quel vino è generoso”).

 

Gianni schicchi

Florence, 1299. 

Buoso Donati, a wealthy man, has just died. His relatives gather round his death bed, vying with each other to appear as the most grief-stricken, but the audience soon realisesthat what really interests them are the contents of his will. Among those present are Buoso’s brother-in-law Betto, his cousin Simone with his wife Ciesca and their son Marco, his nephew Gherardo, the nephew’s wife Nella and their son Gherardino, his cousin Zita (called the Old Woman) and her nephew Rinuccio. They all frantically search for the precious document. It is found by Rinuccio, but before reading it to the gathering he makes his aunt consent to his marriage with Lauretta, the penniless daughter of Gianni Schicchi. The aunt agrees, as the expected inheritance will guarantee a secure future for him. A happy Rinuccio sends the young Gherardino to fetch Schicchi and his daughter Lauretta.

However, the contents of the will come as a complete shock to the relatives when it is read out to them: Buoso has bequeathed his fortune to a monastery (“Dunque era vero”). Simone, who is now the head of the family and who was once the mayor of the neighbouring city of Fucecchio, tries unsuccessfully to find a loophole that would invalidate the will. Rinuccio then suggests that they ask Schicchi for advice, knowing he is a wily and intelligent man. But his family shows their contempt for this newcomer of peasant origins, at the same time telling Rinuccio to forget the idea of marrying Lauretta. Rinuccio defends Schicchi and castigates the narrow-mindedness of the Florentine aristocracy: does the capital of Tuscany not owe its splendour also to men of peasant backgrounds, such as Giotto, Arnolfo and the Medici (“Avete torto... Firenze è come un’albero fiorito”)? Schicchi and Lauretta arrive, but confronted by the hostility of the Donati, Schicchi pretends to leave. Only when Lauretta pleads with him (“O mio babbino caro”) does he agree to stay and scrutinize the will. Unfortunately, Schicchi is no more successful than Simone. However, after first sending his daughter outside to avoid being involved in his stratagem, he promises to help the Donati to find a way out of their dilemma.

After establishing that no one in the city knows that Buoso is dead, Schicchi has his body removed to the adjoining room. Doctor Spinelloccio arrives.  Schicchi quickly hides behind the bed curtains and, mimicking Buoso’s voice, declares that he is feeling better. Spinelloccio is reassured and departs. Schicchi then unveils his plan: disguised as Buoso he will dictate a new will to the notary that will make everyone happy (“Si corre dal notaio”). The cousins tell him their respective wishes. But then they hear the bell tolling: has the news of Buoso’s death spread? To everyone’s relief it turns out that the bell is tolling for someone else’s death. The cousins agree over the various pieces of land, but squabble over the most treasured possessions: the mule (“the best in Tuscany”), the house and the mills at Signa. Unable to come to an agreement on these, they agree to share their revenues and to let Schicchi handle the affair. Zita, Ciesca and Nella help Schicchi to change into Buoso’s clothes (“Spogliati, bambolino”). He climbs into the dead man’s bed, but not before warning his accomplices of the terrible punishment inflicted in Florence on those who falsify wills (“Prima un avertimento!... Addio, Firenze”).

The notary arrives and the conversation begins in Latin. Schicchi declares any prior will null and void and starts to dictate the new one, the first terms of which satisfy everyone, but when it comes to the contentious chapter concerning the mule, the house and the mills, Schicchi orders that these be left to “my devoted friend Gianni Schicchi”. Buoso’s relatives have been tricked, but they are forced to remain quiet, especially when Schicchi reminds them in an aside of the penalties they incur if their ruse is discovered. When the notary has left, after the death of the fake Buoso, the Donati go on a frenzied looting of the house. Schicchi chases them out of what is now his property.

Meanwhile, on the balcony, Lauretta and Rinuccio freely express their love. Nothing can now prevent their marriage, as they have received a respectable dowry (“Lauretta mia”). Schicchi is moved by the sight of the two lovers. He turns to the audience and tells them that he concocted his scheme so that the lovebirds’ love could blossom and, even if Dante has condemned him to hell, he hopes the audience will forgive him in light of “extenuating circumstances”.

Translated by Mary McCabe

A few words with Speranza Scappucci

Speranza Scappucci

Have you worked at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo before and what do you associate with this theatre?

This is my first time at this theater and in this city!

 

You will be conducting two very popular one-act operas but not in their usual context (Cavalleria without Pagliacci, Schicchi without the other two operas from the Trittico). Do you feel this combination might shed light on things that  we did not realise about these pieces before?

Cavalleria rusticana is an opera that stands by itself perfectly even without another opera pro-grammed with it. Whereas Gianni Schicchi is clearly part of the Trittico, and might appear to make less sense if taken out of context. But with its beauty and incredible dramaturgy it can easily live on its own, or become part of a different dittico, paired, like in our case, with a Cavalleria.

 

What do you see as your main job when conducting this repertoire?

When I approach a score, whether it is a bel canto, Verdi or verismo score, my task is always to try and be as faithful as possible to the author’s intentions. There is such precision of indication in the music of composers like Puccini or Mascagni that all we need to do is to respect their writing. For me, the orchestra is always part of the drama, also when it plays “just” a triplet figure under an aria like “Casta Diva” in Bellini’s Norma. Of course, in Puccini or Mascagni the orchestration is fuller and heavier. But it is my goal to make sure that the orchestra part and the vocal lines become a single musical texture, which reflects the inten-tions of the composer.
 

What are the challenges for the singers and the orchestra players in this repertoire? 

For the singers it is not to push their voices to the limit. And in order to help them achieve this, I, the conductor, must take care of the orchestra and make it play with the necessary drama and colours, but always without overpowering the soloists.

Mascagni, a young composer on the cusp of his career

Pietro Mascagni
Cavalleria rusticana

 

A young composer on the cusp of his career

Pietro Mascagni had long caressed the dream of a creating a full-scale, pioneering opera that would make him the worthy successor to Giuseppe Verdi: Guglielmo Ratcliff, based on a play by Heinrich Heine. But in reality the young musician’s life was a far cry from his grandiose ambitions. After failing to obtain his diploma in composition at the Milan Conservatory, he ended up in Cerignola, a large municipality in the province of Foggia (Puglia), where he exercised the rather unexciting profession of director of the local harmony. In 1888 Ratcliff was almost completed when, mainly due to financial pressures, the composer decided to enter the competition organized by the Milanese publisher Edoardo Sonzogno for the composition of a one-act opera. After his ambitious Ratcliff project, this was a complete turnaround. For the libretto he chose a short story by Giovanni Verga who for about ten years had been a main exponent in Italy of the verismo, a literary movement similar to French naturalism, that depicted in almost real-time the contemporary daily life and heightened passions in deprived villages. Mascagni’s opera Cavalleria rusticana [Rustic Chivalry], adapted from the short story of the same title published in 1880, was presented in January 1884 at the Teatro Carignano in Turin, with Eleonora Duse in the role of Santuzza.

The librettist, Giovanni Targioni Tozetti (assisted in the final stages of his work by Guido Menasci), complied with the composer’s demand to write “a libretto closely linked to Verga’s action, simply adding some lyric pieces to clothe the nudity of the tragic action”. Hence certain passages appeared which, instead of precipitating the action into a frenetic race that was the verismo approach, served more as a background, just as Verdi or Puccini could have done: the introductory chorus “Gli aranci olezzano”, Alfio’s entrance aria “Il cavallo scalpita”, the “Regina cœli”, the peasant chorus exiting the church “A casa, a casa”, or Turiddu’s brindisi “Viva il vino spumeggiante”. Targioni Tozetti interspersed these character pieces with much more violent arias, as though he were caressing the listener so as to subsequently better brutalize him. 

Mascagni was totally satisfied with the poem, but nonetheless added some minor, albeit significative, adjustments. He replaced the hero’s name, Torello, with a more Sicilian one, Turiddu, and, above all, imposed the brutal and swift ending instead of the more classic one imagined by Targioni Tozetti. It was also Mascagni who, having enthusiastically discovered poetry in dialect, added Turiddu’s siciliana in the middle of the prelude, before the curtain rises.

Claire Delamarche, translated by Mary McCabe.

The success of an innovative score

The success of an innovative score

Driven by the urge to win the Sonzogno competition, and to avoid being accused of Wagnerism, Mascagni yielded to a certain tradition by respecting the usual vocal disposition (the tenor/soprano duo overshadowed by the lower voices) and allowing genuine arias for the characters. 

Nonetheless, the forms of these arias were highly original, such as progressing without couplets nor repeats throughout the narrative, similar to the grand arias in Verdi’s most recent operas. Taking the lead from Verdi’s most innovative approach,  Mascagni broke away from two centuries of Italian opera that opposed the action (the recitative) to the outpouring of emotions (the aria, where time stands still). Puccini merely followed suit, from Manon Lescaut (1893) onwards.

Around these arias Mascagni arranged lively and mobile recitatives that often flirt with the arioso and which, on a par with the arias, can attain the heights of dramatic violence (for example the relentless build-up in the confrontation between Turiddu and Santuzza (“Tu qui, Santuzza?”). To that effect he didn’t hesitate to use a no less expressive parlato, the climax of which is attained in the final line, cried out off-stage by an anonymous woman: “Hanno ammazzato compare Turiddu” [“They have murdered Master Turiddu”]. From all of this Mascagni reaps the benefits of his experimentations in Ratcliff. The power of the work stems from this alternation between character pieces and dramatic passages, separate, individual numbers and free-style scenes, lyrical outbursts that infuse the supple fabric of the dramatic narrative: alternating elements that, like a coil, contract then unfurl the drama.

The success of Cavalleria rusticana at the Sanzogno competition, followed by its premiere on 17 May 1890 at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, came as a bombshell. Despite the hovering whiff of scandal, he was hailed a genius, a revelation. A complete unknown until then, the young composer from Livorno became an overnight celebrity.

The reasons for this general enthusiasm lie undoubtedly more in the subject than in the modernity of the musical language. For the first time opera gave voice to the nation’s lower classes, moreover in a Sicily far away from the places of Rome or Milan. In the years when cinematography was starting to appear, the daily life of a fishing village was there for all to see, and, despite the absence of any ethnographic consideration, this cardboard Sicily had a furiously authentic air about it. Primal emotions – love, jealousy, vengeance – were laid bare, with a spontaneity and a formidable efficacy. Mascagni revealed  the supremacy of his art in the melodic invention, his handling of mass choruses and use of an orchestra that, as ecstatic as the sung melodies are, is omnipresent (the prelude and the symphonic Intermezzo are pure marvels of sensuality and emotion). A fantastic revenge for the composer to whom the Milan Conservatory had long ago refused a composition diploma.

Claire Delamarche, translated by Mary McCabe

Gianni Schicchi, the triptych

The Triptych

If Giacomo Puccini produced only ten operas (here we count the Triptych as an ensemble), in fact eight if we exclude his now forgotten early works, i.e. Le villi (1884) and Edgar (1889), it is because the creative process for each one was incredibly long, as the composer was determined to offer renewal and to distance himself from his previous work. In effect, what does his portrayal of the golden era of Paris – powdered wigs, but oh so cruel – depicted in Manon Lescaut (1893) have in common with his poor but kind-hearted Paris of La bohème (1896), or the majestic Rome of the Verdi-style drama Tosca (1900) with the pulsating and colourful Japan of Madama Butterfly (1904) or the picturesque vivacity of the musical western La fanciulla del West (1910)? “Rinnovarsi o morire?” (a formula borrowed from Gabriele D’Annunzio) wrote Puccini in July 1911 to Carlo Clausetti, a director of the publisher Ricordi, when appraising La fanciulla: “Renew or die? The harmony of today and the orchestra have changed [...]. I vow to myself again, if I find the subject, to always do better on the path I have chosen, determined not to remain in the rear-guard.”  The Triptych would be the fulfilment of this motto. From the very moment of Tosca’s premiere on 14 January 1900 at Rome Opera House Puccini began reflecting on a project that would completely break away from this irrepressible drama that stretched over three acts, tense as a bowstring from the first to the last notes. Noting the success of a one-act opera presented at the same Teatro Costanzi, Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (1890), he conceived the idea of a triptych of contrasting one-act operas. He pursued this idea after the premiere of Madama Butterfly when, immersed in Dante’s Divine Comedy, he was inspired to draw from it the themes of his three miniature operas.

In the end the project fell through, but after attending a performance in Paris in 1912 of Didier Gold’s play La Houppelande, Puccini returned to the idea of a one-act opera, Il tabarro. It was only when this opera was almost completed that his triptych project resurfaced. Puccini then immediately composed Suor Angelica (late 1916-early 1917), and Gianni Schicchi (July 1917-20 April 1918), forming an ensemble that went from darkness to light, from tragic to buffoonery via the sentimental. The Triptych was premiered on 14 December 1918 at the New York Metropolitan Opera, conducted by Roberto Moranzoni. The first two operas received mixed reviews, only Gianni Schicchi was unreservedly acclaimed. The composer was deeply affected by this reaction as Suor Angelica (an all-female opera set in a monastery near Siena) was particularly dear to him. The following 11 January, Rome Opera House gave the ensemble its European premiere, and this time it was a resounding success.

Claire Delamarche, translated by Mary McCabe

Gianni Schicchi

Gianni Schicchi

It was the librettist Giovacchino Forzano who, supposedly, drew Puccini’s attention to the charming episode of Gianni Schicchi, from Canto XXX of Dante’s Inferno – unless the idea came from the maestro himself, who was an avid reader of the Florentine poet. Nevertheless, after the dark impassioned drama of Il tabarro Puccini was delighted to plunge into this universe of comedy that presented a certain challenge for him as, except for brief passages in Tosca or La bohème, he had never approached comedy.

In many ways Schicchi stands in the wake of Verdi’s final opera, Falstaff (1893): a potbellied, cunning character played by a baritone, a young amorous couple (tenor and soprano) struggling against an entourage preventing them from pursuing their love affair, lively and exciting music, a happy ending followed by a teasing lesson in morality, as well as certain detailed elements to explain a word or set to music the joyous cacophony of the Donati superimposing their voices. However, Schicchi is a harsher mockery of the characters’ cupidity, not without a macabre side: everything occurs in the presence of a real corpse (Gianni takes its place in the deathbed, without even changing the bedsheets!).

The density and coherence of the opera are striking, the result of its short duration, unity of time and place and the fact that the nine living members of the Donati family are on stage from curtain rise to curtain fall. Its uniformity is also structured in the music, with its relentless, unwavering binary rhythm, and a series of recurring motifs, each one corresponding to a specific semantic content. Indeed, as soon as the roar of laughter that opened the brief prelude ends, the orchestra takes up a strongly accentuated, phony lamentation theme that continues when the curtain rises on the phony grieving of the dead man’s relatives. This theme is played almost constantly until the will is read out. Then, in the concertato where the deceased’s relatives discover that Buoso hasn’t left them a penny (“Dunque era vero”) the theme transforms into a motif of fury, an onslaught of high notes from the woodwinds and the dissonant harmony. Every now and then, until the very end of the opera, this theme will reappear.

Another example is Rinuccio’s aria “Firenze è come un’albero fiorito”. Puccini inserts it here “as a stornello” (a popular Tuscan folk song): the young man enumerates the beauties of Florence and glorifies Schicchi’s merits, one of the Tuscan capital’s most remarkable citizens. Between the first two stanzas, and in the conclusion, we observe an unexpectedly lyrical orchestral theme, soon to become the score’s most famous aria “O mio babbino caro”, where Lauretta begs her father not to destroy her love affair with Rinuccio. In the second stanza of this aria are to be noted the orchestra’s chromatic movements depicting the waters of the Arno. Schicchi’s wily character or the love of Rinuccio and Lauretta also have their own themes, as does even the city of Florence, where, as Schicchi’s suave melisma informs them, forgers of wills risk exile or other punishments. Later, in the scene with the notary, Schicchi repeats the same melisma in an aside, so as to discourage the flouted inheritors from revealing his stratagem.

Puccini strews discordant touches in the harmony that, given the predominance of the wind section, offers a grotesque spicy character to certain passages (when the cousins lose their tempers there is even an uproar).

Confronted by a family that often functions as a chamber choir, faced with two lovers whose lyricism contrasts sharply with the general atmosphere of trepidation, the colourful title role has the lion’s share with a quasi infinite vocal palette: grotesque when mimicking Buoso’s voice in front of the doctor or the notary, remarkably assertive when he reveals his plan in the aria “Si corre dal notaio”. He can also appear grumpy, sneering, smooth-talking… When he addresses us, the audience, after the curtain falls, he even adopts a spoken voice: a stroke of genius on the part of Puccini, his response to the final virtuoso fugue in Falstaff, for which he had no other choice but to do the exact opposite. All we can do is forgive him, as Gianni Schicchi exhorts us to, given that the Donati family he duped are despicable characters.

Claire Delamarche, translated by Mary McCabe