23-31 Jan 2004. Conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti, directed by Hugo De Ana, with Nelly Miricioiu, Alberto Cupido, Giorgio Surian, Alberto Gazale, Anna Rita Taliento. This opera was ready to be staged for the first time in Rome in 1915 but for unknown reasons was cancelled, so this is its premire for the theatre and the city. Respighi composed the work early in his career for a French libretto by Eduard Guiraud, based on a play set in France during the revolution.

Romes Teatro dellOpera opens its 2004 season with Marie Victoire by Ottorino Respighi, 27-31 Jan 2004. It is one of Respighis early operatic works and contains the seeds of what would later become his defining characteristics: excellent orchestral scores combined with a sound grasp of composition. This production brings together Gianluigi Gelmetti (conductor) and Hugo De Ana (director), whose unforgettable production of La Fiamma a few years ago rekindled interest in Respighi as an opera composer.

As we wait to see what this premire has in store for us, we can try to evaluate the past season at the Teatro dellOpera. On the whole it was a good year, which featured operas from the standard repertory as well as rarely-heard productions and some interesting vocal concerts. There were renowned singers (Dess, Domingo, Florez, Barcellona), although a few more wouldnt have hurt. Unfortunately, famous conductors were absent.

Nevertheless, the public flocked to the opera house, especially for standard operas such as Lucia di Lammermoor, La Bohme, Don Pasquale and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. However, listening to the comments in the theatre foyer the predominant impression was one of boredom, and a feeling that everything was a bit dull and unimaginative. Its no coincidence that the most exciting performances were the unusual ones, such as Lassassinio nella cattedrale by Pizzetti and Francesca da Rimini by Zandonai. Their success was due partly to the fact that they are performed so rarely that there arent many points of comparison, but also because singers and conductors are more stimulated by new challenges, and the audience reacts with more interest and open-mindedness.

One final consideration: last seasons programme failed to include a single German composer. To make up for it, this year will see performances of Elektra by Strauss (April), Fidelio by Beethoven (Oct) and Der Fliegende Hollnder by Wagner (Nov). Paolo Di Nicola

General Info

Address Teatro Costanzi, Piazza B. Gigli, tel. 0648160255-064817003.

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Marie Victoire by Respighi.

Teatro Costanzi, Piazza B. Gigli, tel. 0648160255-064817003.