“How the Passion of Hannibal Lecter Inspired a New Opera About Dante”

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“When you hear the name Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a few things spring to mind—and none of them are likely to involve Italian poet Dante Alighieri or opera. Of course there’s good reason for this, with Lecter’s exotic cooking ingredients superseding his gentler affectations. But even so, when author Thomas Harris first imagined how the character might move in the wild for the novel Hannibal, it was with baroque glee he unleashed the doctor in Florence: Italy’s Renaissance city and Dante’s medieval stomping grounds.

“Director Ridley Scott similarly understood that secret recipe. His film version of Hannibal relishes every Italian colonnade Anthony Hopkins walks under, or the way the shadow of the statue of David casts darkness on its star’s face, often as he stands in the same spot where men were hanged or immolated centuries ago. In its better moments, Scott’s movie savors that this is a story about a devil who covets the divine; it delights in playing like an opera.

“Hence for the picture’s best sequence, the filmmakers commissioned a new ‘mini-opera,’ one that would for the first time put music to verses that Dante wrote more than 700 years ago. And in the decades since the movie’s release, those fleeting  minutes of music have blossomed into a real, full-fledged opera about to have its world premiere. Once again the doctor’s distinct tastes and influences appear singular within the realm of movie monsters.” [. . .]    –David Crow, Den of Geek, February 17, 2021.

L’Orfeo – Claudio Monteverdi

Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi’s 1607 opera L’Orfeo, the third act of which includes the words “Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch’entrate.”

La Divina Commedia Opera Musical a Torino nel 2020

“Prodotta da Music International Company, ‘La Divina Commedia Opera Musical’ può vantare un team creativo d’eccezione con 24 cantanti-attori e ballerini-acrobati, più di 50 professionisti eoltre 200 costumi utilizzati dal cast. Ad arricchire questa grande squadra ci sono poi gli oltre 50 scenari che si susseguono sul palco a ritmo serrato e tengono alta l’attenzione del pubblico di ogni età. Uno spettacolo assolutamente da non perdere che andrà in scena a Torino dal 24 al 29 marzo 2020.” [. . .]    —Guida Torino, 2019.

Contributed by Silvia Byer (Park University)

Francesca da Rimini at La Scala, Milan

Francesca-da-Rimini-La-Scala-Milano“15 April-13 May [2018]. This is the first time Francesca da Rimini, inspired by D’ Annunzio’s novel of the same name written in 1901, returns to La Scala in six decades.

“Zandonai’s opera, his most successful, was performed in Turin for the first time in 1914. This new La Scala production is conducted by Fabio Luisi and directed by David Pountney with Maria José Siri in the lead role. Pountney is a British theatre and opera director known for his productions of rarely performed or new works. Teatro alla Scala, Via Filodrammatici 2, www.teatroallascala.org.” — Posted on wantedinmilan.com

Patrick Cassidy, Vide Cor Meum

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“Vide Cor Meum” is an aria by Irish composer Patrick Cassidy. The aria, based on Dante’s sonnet “A ciascun’alma presa e gentil core,” was originally composed as a mini opera for the 2001 Ridley Scott film Hannibal. The aria was performed on the grounds of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence for the production of the film, which stars Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.

The scene of the performance is available to view on YouTube.

See Dante Today‘s post on the film Hannibal here.

Zachary Woolfe, “A Circle of Composers, Intimate and Epic”

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“There is an operatic quality coursing through the work of the Second Empire sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-75), the subject of a powerful exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through May 26, that inspired a concert of French vocal music at the museum on Saturday evening.

“Look at Carpeaux’s best-known masterpiece, the wrenching ‘Ugolino and his Sons’ based on Dante: Here are both epic scope and intimate detail (those clenched feet!), the combination that 19th-century opera specialized in. It’s no surprise, given the adroitness of his balance between exuberance and restraint, that he was asked to design a relief for the exterior of Charles Garnier’s opera house in Paris. The result, a swirling mass of figures called ‘La Danse,’ fairly explodes off the facade.”    –Zachary Woolfe, “A Circle of Composers, Intimate and Epic,” The New York Times, April 29, 2014

Louis Andriessen, “La Commedia” (2008)

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“On Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 8:00 p.m., Andriessen’s extraordinary new opera La Commedia (based on Dante’s Divine Comedy) makes its New York premiere in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage in a concert performance by the Asko Schoenberg ensemble…
According to the composer, ‘I see Dante’s La Commedia as one of the highest points ever reached in literature and philosophy. It combines complexity, intellectualism, horror, beauty, multi-layering, allusions, historical and mythological references, and, above all, irony. I selected sequences of material in the same order as in Dante’s book. So the first two scenes take us from the City of Dis down through Inferno to the deepest regions of hell where we meet Lucifer in the third part. This is where Adam’s Fall is described. We then pass upward through the lighter-hearted Garden of Earthly Delights until we reach Paradise in the final section, Eternal Light.’
La Commedia was premiered in June 2008 at the Holland Festival by many of the same musicians performing in the Carnegie Hall presentation.” [. . .]    —Broadway World, March 1, 2010

See also, Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, April 1, 2010

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Anna Caterina Antonacci, “Altre Stelle” (2009)

anna-caterina-antonacci-altre-stelle-2009.jpg “It is the rare singer who can command the support of an orchestra for a concert of arias. Having the event be fully staged, with sets and costumes, is almost unheard of. But the soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci is a favorite in Paris, as she is likely to be anywhere she appears, and the Theatre des Champs-Elysees is currently presenting ‘Altre Stelle’ (‘Other Stars,’ Dante’s term about the power of love), a program of landmark French opera arias linked by the theme of unrequited love.” [. . .]    –George Loomis, The New York Times, April 28, 2009

“Blasphemy! strikes Madison: Walmartopia creators discuss new disco opera”

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“Religion has always been a central element of American political strife, with the excesses and calumnies of Christian fundamentalism providing a broad and sustained target for satire by believers and nonbelievers alike. Playwrights Catherine Capellaro and Andrew Rohn flout the latest manias and offer up laughs with Blasphemy, their new ‘wicked trio of musical comedies that takes aim at creationists, George W. Bush, Rapture Christians, and intolerance of all stripes.’
Premiering at the Bartell Theatre on January 9, this production is the latest creation by the husband-and-wife team, whose previous musical Walmartopia broke theatrical box office records in Madison before hitting the national stage with an Off Broadway run last year. As they did with their send-up of the smiley-faced corporate behemoth, the pair goes for laughs in Blasphemy by taking on an American institution, in this case the tenets of faith-based politics.
In a nod to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the show is split into three tales, titled ‘Rapture,’ ‘Purgatory,’ and ‘Paradise.’ The anticipation of politicians like George W. Bush and Sarah Palin for the return of Jesus, a disco meditation on death, and a parable about the revelation of evolution to Adam and Eve together comprise a wicked triptych of sacrilege.” [. . .]    –Kristian Knutsen, The Daily Page, December 23, 2008

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Vladimir Martynov, “Vita Nuova” Opera

vladimir-martynov-vita-nuova-opera “Next season, Mr. Jurowski will return to Lincoln Center with the London Philharmonic, bearing Mozart, Mahler, Strauss, a full evening of Rachmaninoff and the American premiere of Vladimir Martynov’s opera Vita Nuova, after Dante’s neo-Platonic treatise on love in verse and prose.”    –Matthew Gurewitsch, New York Times, January 27, 2008 (retrieved January 27, 2008)

See also: “Love Poems With Musical Annotation” by Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, March 1, 2009