An Italian opera returns to La Scala after 59 years

Last night at La Scala, Fabio Luisi conducted David Pountney’s new production of Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini.

From 1914 to 1959, the melodrama was a mainstay of La Scala seasons.

Last night, I found no more than a couple of people in the house who had ever seen it live. Among the cast, only the tenor had ever sung it before.

I shall write more of the experience in due course.


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  • “From 1914 to 1959, the melodrama was a mainstay … I found no more than a couple of people in the house who had ever seen it live”

    That’s good news, opera audiences in Milan are getting younger.

  • That would be Riccardo Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini, which has recently successfully been staged in Strasbourg and Mulhouse, France, by the Opéra national du Rhin. (message reposted without links, because of moderation)

    principal cast:

    Francesca: Saioa Hernández
    Samaritana: Josy Santos
    Ostasio: Ashley David Prewett
    Giovanni La Sciancato: Marco Vratogna
    Paolo iI Bello: Marcelo Puente

    conductor: Giuliano Carella

    • It was also performed at Opéra Bastille in 2011 with the advantage of Roberto Alagna as Paolo il Bello. I saw the 2013 Met revival of the production of some 30 years previously. I am definitely NOT a Met-basher but it was pretty dire stuff and I hope it was safely moth-balled for at least another 30 years.

        • No doubt the original production was wonderful but I don’t think it aged well. Shall we just say that the 2013 revival had a less than stellar cast and leave it at that.

          • Yes. It was a poor showing musically, and the opera is far from a masterpiece, so if it’s not cast with care, you wonder, “Why do it at all?” I liked the stage production. Faggioni often did good work (perhaps not including his heavy-handed Met Ballo), and he had some great Italian collaborators on that occasion, Squarciapino on costumes, Frigerio on sets. But one may have been better off staying home and watching the ’80s video.

  • Rachmaninoff’s Francesca da Rimini is a fantastic opera far too rarely performed.
    The last attempt in Brussels a few years ago was stage-wise a disaster.

    • Rachmaninoff’s “Francesca” was performed (quite well) at the Princeton Festival in 2012, as part of a Dante-inspired double-bill with “Gianni Schicchi.” The opera is certainly worth hearing — and staging.

    • The disastrous staging could be attributed to the fact that La Monnaie was closed for refurbishment at that time. I saw this production at the Théâtre National, one of many unsuitable venues used for staging opera during this period.

      • The staging would have been disastrous in any theatre.
        But yes, the National has something of a musical venue of the worst kind, although the foyers have some retro appeal.

  • Beautifully sung and staged by Opera Holland Park in 2010 with Cheryl Barker and Julian Gavin. Truly memorable

  • heard the b’cast and was appalled by the mediocre singing, especially when you go back to 1959 with del monaco and olivero, a performance which has become legendary and simply NOBODY has surpassed since

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