Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sarasota Opera Visits Verdi (Day 2)

The entrance to the Sala Verdi
The Sarasota Opera Visits Verdi began the evening of the second night with a reception in the “Sala Verdi”, the suite that was the composer’s home in Milan for 30 years and where he died in 1901. When Verdi wasn’t using it, his presumptive heirs like Pietro Mascagni could gain access, but when Verdi wanted it, the current occupant was asked to leave so the composer could have its use. In recent years luminaries like Oprah Winfrey have occupied the prized room in the hotel.

The reception was a precursor to attending a new production of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot at La Scala. Unfortunately Sarasota Opera Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi and Executive Director Richard Russell had to leave the gathering early to meet La Scala’s sovrintendente Alexander Pereira and Director of External Affairs Dr. Donatella Brunezzi. Mr. Pereira welcomed the Sarasotans to La Scala. Mr. Pereira and Dr. Brunezzi already knew about Sarasota Opera and the company and listened with interest as Mo. DeRenzi and Mr. Russell talked about the end of their Verdi Cycle and plans for the future.

Puccini’s opera Turandot received its world premiere at La Scala in 1926, a year and a half following the composer’s death. Left unfinished at the time of Puccini’s demise, it was completed by composer Franco Alfano for the first performance. More recently composer Luciano Berio took another stab at the ending and it was in this version that the Sarasota Opera group saw it on Wednesday night.
Promotional poster for Turandot at La Scala
The performance starred Swedish soprano Nina Stemme in the title role, with Aleksandr Antonenko as Calaf and rising young Italian soprano Maria Agresta as Liù.  Music director designate Ricardo Chailly conducted. The production, much more conceptual than the traditional production seen in Sarasota in 2013, was directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff. The audience was extremely enthusiastic about the singers but the visitors from Sarasota were surprised to hear booing as the conductor took his bow. It’s not something we are used to in Sarasota, but a staffer at La Scala warned everyone that it happens often in Italy.
Puccini's Turandot at La Scala

Click HERE to continue onto day 3 and 4 of Sarasota Opera's adventures in Italy...

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