Opera Chic didn’t really want to spend Memorial weekend (well, it’s Memorial weekend in the US, Italians couldn’t care less, but whatevs) in sticky-hot-as-if-it’s-already-July Milan, so she hopped on to cool (even too cool, OC was greeted by a hellish, if short, hail storm) Salzburg like a happy bunny.
Because since all the cool kids are always mentioning “new music”, Opera Chic decided to treat herself to some deinitely new music – music none of you guys has ever really heard. Music that’s 229 years new, actually.
Because the Whitsun Festival in Salzburg has begun last Friday with Riccardo Muti conducting a lost opera by Domenico Cimarosa, Il Ritorno di Don Calandrino, a score that he has found in the archives of the San Pietro a Maiella Conservatorio.
Tonight, OC has just returned to her hotel after seeing the second performance. Long review coming tomorrow, on Tuesday at the latest.
Suffice to say, Cimarosa's tight relationship with Mozart was evident -- it's an opera about two women lusting after the same man, so similar at times to Rossini's l'Italiana in Algeri (the general tone of playfulness) and to Mozart's own Così Fan Tutte (the structure built around the relationship of two couples with a fifth character).
The libretto is a witty little kitty that, unfortunately for nonItalian speaking audiences, has so many delightful -- really extraordinary -- wordplays easily lost in supertitles translation.
Muti's conducting, as always with this kind of material, the material he's most comfortable with and that he dominates completely, was a miracle of airy splendor: his ability to lead the kids (students) of his creature, the Cherubini orchestra, to a performance perfectly suitable to a historic venue such as Salzburg, was amazing. His talent for quicksilver, driven pulse and for nevertheless pointing out the moments of sadness behind the slapstick of most of the action, was another miracle.
Before going to baed, just one suggestion to a smart tenor who really wants to look good: call Muti on his cellphone (he doesn't do email and does not even know what an iPod is) and ask him to send you a copy of the score: Scene 6, act II, begins with the tenor aria “La donna è sempre instabile” (“La donna è sempre instabile / sempre si cangia e vola / come la banderuola / che gira qua e là”). We easily see someone like Rolando Villazon bringing the house down singing that aria during a recital. Muti has already found interest for Don Calandrino in Russia and Paris: he really might have found there much more than a curiosity for the Whitsun Festival in Salzburg. It may very well be an opera buffa worth performing again, for wider audiences: it has essentially four leads, one tenor, two dueling (in many ways, literally too) sopranos, and a bass-baritone. At least two arias deserve to become classics of the genre.
More tomorrow, now Opera Chic spake and she is tired.
PS Our favorite post-performance moment: the old dude who approached the gift shop representative asking for a cd of the opera. He had to be told that this was the first performance in more than two centuries. That made Opera Chic lol. (esp because she saw a nice ladey recording the entire performances a few rows back from OC's choice seat).
May ye gawds of Opera Share help us all.