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Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele returns to the Teatro La Fenice in Venice after a long absence, in the title role of Alex Esposito
The new staging is signed by the directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, with Nicola Luisotti on the podium

La Fenice Theater Foundation Presents

“ Opera and Ballet Season 2023 – 24 ”
Mephistopheles of Arrigo Boito, a cornerstone of Italian melodrama, returns to the stage La Fenice Theater in Venice after 55 years of absence: the new production, co-authored by the directors Moshe Leiser is Patrice Caurier, with the musical direction of Nicola Luisotti, will be on the bill from 12 to 23 April 2024 for five performances.

The scenes are edited by himself Moshe Leiser, the costumes from Augustine Ride, the lights from Christophe Forey; The videos are from Etienne Guiol, the choreography of Blessed Vollack. Protagonists on stage, Alex Esposito in the title role, Piero Pretti as Faust, Maria Agresta in those of Margherita (role played by Martha Turbidons in the performance of April 20th); with them, Camellia Kader (Marta/Pantalis), Maria Teresa Leva (Elena) e Enrico Cheesemakers (Wagner/Nereus). Next to theOrchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice – choir master Alfonso Caiani – , even the white voices of Little Singers Venetians, prepared by Diana D'Alessio.

Arrigo Boito (Padua 1842 – Milan 1918), fine man of letters and illustrious librettist (for Verdi he wrote Otello and Falstaff, for Ponchielli the Mona Lisa, but he also attempted a less well-known Hamlet for Franco Faccio), he was also a composer, author of only two but important titles, the youthful Mephistopheles and the unfinished Nero.

Opera in a prologue, four acts and an epilogue, with a libretto by the same Boito adapted from Goethe, Mephistopheles debuted at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan on 5 March 1868 as a lyrical 'manifesto' of the new aesthetic ideals of Wagnerian inspiration proclaimed by the young writer and musician from Padua, in controversial contrast with Verdi's theatre. Boito was considered the spearhead of the disheveled intellectualism of the Lombard capital, and in the enthusiasm for the themes of Germanic culture he saw in the literary source of the verse drama Faust the possibility of realizing the ambitious project of renewal of Italian opera. After the resounding failure of the first, Boito returned to the score, completely revising it; in this new version the opera was presented on 4 October 1875 in the 'Wagnerian' Bologna, achieving good success.

«Mephistopheles is more a philosophical fresco than a normal theatrical plot – declared the director Patrice Caurier –. The issues addressed in this work are universal and not referable to a historical period, therefore it would not be relevant to relegate them to the Middle Ages. In this show there are different scenes, but we open it with a totally empty stage, apart from an armchair where Mephistopheles is sitting. It's an abandoned theater. The work takes us to a garden, a carnival, a sabbat etc. But these are not real places; they are all ways for Mephistopheles to deceive Faust."

«I don't know if an empty stage is contemporary or not – continues the director Moshe Leiser –. It's just a theater, where nothing is brought on stage anymore. But in the end, when Faust is coming back to the idea of an ideal city where people love each other, he takes a cello and awaits death by playing. So this is the answer to the desperation that surrounds our times: music can represent some kind of consolation."

«I have always been deeply fascinated by the myth of Faust – declared the conductor Nicola Luisotti –. We are the myth of Faust. The moment we ask ourselves the why of things, we desire to understand the truth, we are all Faust. It is the myth of knowledge, which is deeply within us. Faust are all those who are not satisfied with a given explanation, who, despite believing in God and in science, believe in God as an entity not found, but real. Like a universal creative energy. They are the ones who suffer the most, unlike those who have a faith, who believe in a dogma. This is why I believe that Goethe's Faust is an absolute masterpiece and I also believe that it is probably not possible to set it to music, to transpose it into an opera, better than what Boito did in 1868."

~

(Alex Esposito, photo credit Victor Santiago; Nicola Luisotti, credit Stefan Cohen)

Highlighted

The before performance, Friday April 12, 2024 (7pm) .will be broadcast in direct from Rai Radio3.
Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele returns to the Teatro La Fenice in Venice after a long absence, in the title role of Alex Esposito

Interpreters

Characters and performers
Mephistopheles Alex Esposito
Faust Piero Pretti
Margherita pizza Maria Agresta /
Marta Torbidoni (20/4)
Marta/Pantalis Kamelia Kader
Elena Maria Teresa Leva
Wagner/Nereus Enrico Casari

Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice
Director Nicola Luisotti
Choir Master Alfonso Caiani

Children's choir Little Venetian Singers
Choir Master Diana D'Alessio

direction Moshe Leiser is Patrice Caurier
scenes Moshe Leiser
costumes Agostino Rides
light designer Christophe Forey
video designer Etienne Guiol
choreography Beate Vollack

New La Fenice Theater setup

Program

Mephistopheles
operates in a prologue, four acts and an epilogue
libretto and music by Arrigo Boito

from the verse drama Faust
of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(critical edition by Antonio Moccia)

Absolute first performance
Milan, Teatro alla Scala, 5 March 1868
(second version: Bologna, Teatro Comunale, 4 October 1875)

Replicas

12 April 2024 at 7pm 'before'
repeat performances 14 and 20 April at 3.30 pm
17 and 23 April at 7pm

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