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Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice,Genova announces the modern times première of Bianca e Fernando

Source: Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice,GenovaDecember/03/2021

Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova presented the new production of Bianca e Fernando “melodramma serio in due atti” by Vincenzo Bellini in world première on November 19th in the version created for the historical inauguration of the Theatre, on 7 April 1828. The reconstruction features scattered pages by Vincenzo Bellini, such as the introductory Allegro to the overture and scenes, duets and arias among those mentioned in Bellini’s correspondences, together with Domenico Gilardoni’s original libretto purposedly reworked for the occasion by Felice Romani.

Debut is on Friday, November 19th at 8.00 pm, following performances are due on Saturday Nov. 20th, Sunday Nov. 21st and Sunday Nov. 28th at 3.00 pm and Tuesday November 30th at 8.00 pm.

Donato Renzetti conducts Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Carlo Felice (chorus master Francesco Aliberti). Direction, set and costume design is by Hugo De Ana.

Cast includes Salome Jicia / Francesca Tiburzi (Bianca), Giorgio Misseri/Davi Ferri Durà (Fernando), Nicola Uliveri / Simon Lim (Filippo), Alessio Cacciamani / Francesco Leoni (Carlo), Elena Belfiore (Viscardo), Giovanni Battista Parodi (Clemente), Carlotta Vichi (Eloisa), Antonio Mannarino / Renato Parachinetto (Uggero).

The opera has been missing in Genoa since 1978. It’s première will be aired on Rai Radio 3 and video recorded to the purpose of a DVD produced and released by Dynamic.

The rediscovery of the original work presented in 1828 touches the deepest chords of Genoa’s musical identity and history. First of all, it is the work that inaugurated the Theatre itself on April 7th, 1828, as a chronicle of the time recalls “in the presence of the Savoy Royals, amidst the joy and admiration of the citizens and of the many foreigners drawn to Genoa from so splendid party”. For this rare occasion, Genoese poet Felice Romani, the greatest Italian librettist of the first half of the century, as the artistic attaché of the organization, had conceived a program full of novelites, involving - almost in competition amongst them - some of the greatest opera composers of the time and providing them specifically with subjects and rhymes. Therefore, on the following 12th of May Alina, regina di Golconda by Gaetano Donizetti made her debut and so did Francesco Morlacchi’s emblematic Colombo, on June 21st.

Bellini responded to Romani’s call first and - assuming he could have counted on the skillful interventions of his favorite playwright, Romani - resumed a work previously presented at the San Carlo in Naples in May 1826, set to a libretto by Domenico Gilardoni: Bianca and Gernando, with the protagonist’s name appropriately adapted in order not to disappoint the heir to the throne, Ferdinando di Borbone.

The plot: Carlo, Duke of Agrigento is ousted by the usurper Filippo. His exiled son, Fernando manages to foil the tyrant’s intrigues and marriage with his sister, Bianca, regaining at last his family’s dignity of the throne: an exciting story, which had already received wide acclaim in Naples, but which was proposed in Genoa in a new light, thanks to the conspicuous improvement of both text and music.

Bellini, who had arrived in the city in March to review the score, had an exceptional cast at his disposal, with soprano Adelaide Tosi, tenor Giovanni David and bass Antonio Tamburini in the starring roles, a 65 elements orchestra and a choir of 36. Two days before the debut the composer wrote to his friend Florimo: “Last night’s was the last full rehearsal and tonight’s is the general. The pieces on which I count are the three cavatina, the finale of the first act and the duet and the two scenes of the second. Tosi’s scene in particular is of an unspeakable effect; the first half formed by a largo, the second by the agitato you know and the third by a cabaletta, a brilliant declamation that is captivating: in a word we will certainly not fail.Yesterday the duet made as many people were there cry”.

And, in fact, success was wide, since the annals record as many as twenty-one performances of the opera, “with growing favor”. Despite this, the performance tradition of Bianca e Fernando has retained up to now very little of the novelties that had made that Genoese experience so special. For over a century we have tried to recover its contents starting from the comparison between the Neapolitan primitive draft and some variants of the late nineteenth century’s, but various pieces were missing, starting with the dazzling Allegro in D major which integrated the short original opening.

Today, thanks to an extensive research work promoted by the Teatro Carlo Felice Foundation as part of the Civiltà musicale genovese (Genoese musical civilization) project in collaboration with the Centro Studi belliniani and the Bellini Foundation of Catania under the coordination of the specialist Graziella Seminara, curator of the score for the national critical edition of the Works of Vincenzo Bellini (in progress), these pages have emerged from Italian and foreign collections. The city of Genoa’s Istituto Mazziniano – Museo del Risorgimento and the library of the Niccolò Paganini Conservatory contributed soundly to the effort by providing precious, original memorabilia.

All materials will be presented starting from November 12th till November 30th in the exhibition Genoa, 7 April 1828, curated by Francesco Zimei, set up at the Foyer of the Teatro Carlo Felice and dedicated both to the opera and to the Theatre’s historial opening. 

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