Il Campiello in Firenze
IL CAMPIELLO in Firenze
Opera by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari at Opera di Firenze, Italy, 2014 September 30th
Review by Fabio Bardelli, photo: Simone Donati/TerraProject Firenze
FIRENZE/ITALY: Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is a musician born in Venice in 1876, his father was German while his mother was Venetian. He’s not well known even in Italy, where his operas are seldom performed. His looking back to tradition with affection and a certain nostalgic feeling (specially to Mozart but in Campiello even to Verdi’s Falstaff), and that’s why he was considered outdated or even a backward musician. Generally, Italian music critic looks at him almost with suspicion because of his keeping distance from 1900s’ music avangarde.
Il Campiello is a three acts opera, mostly a conversation singing without really unforgettable moments or melody easy to remember, apart some popular rippling folk-theme; anyhow everything on the musical side is very nice to hear and accurately written, so that to see it on stage with good interpreters is quite agreeable and an occasion not to be missed, being in Italy out of repertoire.
Il Campiello was premiered in 1936 and if we compare it to the music that was composed in that era in the rest of Europe, Wolf-Ferrari seems as traditionalist as anachronistic. It’s true that also Richard Strauss had a nostalgic look on 18thCentury, but he achieved other artistic results. Surely Wolf-Ferrari is often lacking in inspiration, that is in average generic, but he was skilled as a composer, an art that he had learned with academic studies.
Il Campiello is somewhat lacking in consistency as an opera, lacking both in dramatic value and in an exhaustive musical depiction of the many characters. The plot is taken from Carlo Goldoni’s play and is about a group of people living in a Campiello, a popular “piazzetta”in Venice, the events in their lives and love skirmishes until the end where the young Gasparina leaves to elsewhere. Even for an Italian audience is difficult to follow the text because it is written in Venice dialect, very far from current Italian language. What is really impressive, is how naturally this dialect merges together with the music, that seems to sprout from intonations, sing-songs and consonantic draging typical of Venice (as said musician’s mother was Venetian). So this opera is like a homesick work from a composer who hadn’t irresistible strength in his compositive art but had assimilated very well Goldoni’s language and its colour shading.
Conductor in this Florence performance is young Francesco Ciluffo, who is at ease with Wolf-Ferrari’s language, he follows well the singers but sometimes exaggerates in sound’s volume. The Maggio Fiorentino Orchestra and Chorus played really well.
The vocal cast was young and omogeneous, we must remember delightful soprano Alessandra Marianelli as Gasparina who performed her character in a quite convincent way also scenically. Then, Diana Mian, Patrizia Orciani, Barbara Bargnesi, and among men Luca Canonici and Cristiano Olivieri both in “en-travesti”roles, playing two old ladies. Then Filippo Morace and young tenor Alessandro Scotto di Luzio, Clemente Antonio Daliotti and Luca Dall’Amico.
In the libretto the plot is situated at the half of 18th Century, but stage director Leo Muscato places the three acts in as many different ages, 18th Century, 20th and present times. We think that Muscato’s idea is to show how much this history is near to us, but the staging in itself is surely not quite convincing, also because there are no intermissions among the different acts, we just see singers continuosly changing dresses style and make up.
Moreover, in third act there is almost a complete dichotomy, with the character on stage dressing like we do in our time, but speaking a 1700s Venetian dialect on a musical retro background.
Carlo Goldoni appears often on stage but on the side, in gowns of his own time. He’s the real deus ex machina of the whole history, interacting also with some of the characters. This is maybe also in memory of the fact that Goldoni walked often in the small streets of his town, studying the multifaceted humanity of his people.
Director Muscato really worked very well on the acting of all the singers, achieving a staging very interesting to see. Muscato could count of the beautiful scene by Tiziano Santi, nice costumes by Silvia Aymonino, and the wonderful light design by Alessandro Verazzi.
At the performace of September 30th that we are reviewing, the audience was really scarce (the Hall was half-deserted) but warm in applause.
Direttore, Francesco Cilluffo
Regia, Leo Muscato
Scene, Tiziano Santi
Costumi, Silvia Aymonino
Luci, Alessandro Verazzi
Gasparina, Alessandra Marianelli
Lucieta, Diana Mian
Gnese, Barbara Bargnesi
Zorzeto, Alessandro Scotto di Luzio
Orsola, Patrizia Orciani
Dona Cate Panciana, Cristiano Olivieri
Dona Pasqua Polegana, Luca Canonici
Anzoleto, Filippo Morace
Cavalier Astolfi, Clemente Antonio Daliotti
Fabrizio dei Ritorti, Luca Dall’Amico
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Maestro del Coro, Lorenzo Fratini
Review by Fabio Bardelli
translation from italian Bruno Tredicine