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The Teatro Regio of Turin stages Le villi, the first success of the young Puccini
Riccardo Frizza conducts the debut opera of the composer from Lucca in the staging signed by Pier Francesco Maestrini
Organized by: Teatro Regio Foundation of Turin

Teatro Regio di Torino Foundation Presents

“ Opera and Ballet Season 2023 – 24 ”
The detailed tribute that the Teatro Regio of Turin tribute to Giacomo Puccini on the centenary of his disappearance it is enriched with a further precious piece with the staging of The villas, a debut work that in 1884 sensationally brought the 25-year-old composer into the limelight, who immediately became noticed for his intense melodies and powerful symphonic writing.

On the bill for six performances from 19 to 26 April 2024, The villas is proposed in the new staging signed by the Florentine director Pier Francesco Maestrini, with the musical direction of Riccardo It fizzes, repertoire specialist, who takes to the podium of theOrchestra and Chorus of the Regio, the latter instructed by Ulysses Trabacchin.

Protagonists on stage, in the role of Anna, the soprano Roberta Mantrgns (alternating with Laura Jordan, the 20th and 24th); in the part of Roberto, the tenor Azer Zada (in the performance of the 20th, Raffaele Abete), and in that of Guglielmo Wulf, the baritone Simone Piazzola (on the 20th and 24th, Gëzim Myshketa).

The director Maestrini, for the first time at the Regio, for his evocation of the otherworldly and demonic world, uses the scenes of Guillermo Nova, of the costumes of Luca Of the Alps, of the choreography of Michele Cosentino, also assistant director, and lighting designer Bruno Ciulli.

Initially conceived as a one-act play, the opera-dance The Willis, with a libretto by Ferdinando Fontana, was composed by Puccini – twenty-five years old and a recent graduate of the Milan Conservatory – to participate in a competition announced by the publisher Sonzogno. Puccini did not win the competition, but managed to have the opera performed at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan, where the May 31, 1884 in a packed room, enjoying a triumph. The young composer wrote to his mother: «A sensational success. Eighteen calls. Repeated three times final first. I am happy".

For the next representation, the December 26, 1884 right at Teatro Regio of Turin, Puccini prepared an expanded version in record time, with new arias and a new orchestral intermezzo, and changed the title which became The villi. The audience appreciated the skillful combination of Italian tradition and Wagnerian elements and welcomed it in triumph. Other memorable performances followed: e.g Hamburg in 1892 with the direction of Gustav Mahler and at the Metropolitan in New York in 1908 with Arturo Toscanini on the podium.

The subject refers to an ancient legend of Slavic origin and well known also in Central Europe: the Villi are otherworldly creatures, malignant and ruthless avengers, spirits of young girls who died for love because they were betrayed or abandoned. Not being able to find eternal rest, they look for traitors, forcing them to dance convulsively until they cause their death; then the villas disappear and with them the ghost of the young woman who died for love vanishes, finally appeased.

The legend was narrated by the German poet Heinrich Heine in his book De l'Allemagne, and from here it came to the French writer Théophile Gautier, who in collaboration with the playwright Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges drew the libretto for the famous romantic ballet Giselle or Les Willis, created for Carlotta Grisi and set to music by Adolphe Adam in 1841, a work that made the sinister legend familiar to the widest theatrical audience,

Ferdinando Fontana, versatile 'scapigliato' writer and librettist of the young Puccinis, he certainly knew these sources, but he referred more directly to the story The Willis (Contes et Nouvelles, 1852) that the writer is a French journalist Alphonse Karr dedicated to the same subject.

In the work of Puccini, set in a village in the Black Forest, it will be Anna who transforms into a villa: daughter of the rich landowner William Wulf, she is engaged to Roberto, who, going to Mainz to take possession of an inheritance, will forget his betrothed and betray her. With a broken heart, Anna will die of pain and, having become Villi, will take revenge on her unfaithful lover by forcing him to participate in an infernal and frenetic dance that will leave him lifeless.
The Teatro Regio of Turin stages Le villi, the first success of the young Puccini

Other information of interest

Friday April 19 at the Piccolo Regio Puccini will be held the conference  “A genius on his debut. The youthful years of Giacomo Puccini“, organized by the Giacomo Puccini Study Center and the Teatro Regio.

Interpreters

Riccardo Frizza conductor
Pier Francesco Maestrini direction

Guillermo Nova scenes
Luca Dell'Alpi costumes
Michele Cosentino choreography
Bruno Ciulli lights

Ulysses Trabacchin choir master
Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio Torino

Characters and performers
Anna Roberta Mantegna /
Laura Giordano (20, 24)
Roberto Azer Zada /
Raffaele Abete (20)
William Wulf  Simone Piazzola /
Gëzim Myshketa (20, 24)

New staging Teatro Regio Turin

Program

The Villi
Opera-dance in two acts

Music by Giacomo Puccini
Booklet of Ferdinando Fontana

Absolute first performance
Milan, Teatro Dal Verme, 31 May 1884

Replicas

19 April 2024 at 8pm 'premiere' performances 20, 21, 24 April at 3pm 23 and 26 April at 8pm

Who organizes

Teatro Regio Foundation of TurinThe Teatro Regio of Turin… more

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