Amleto – Fall 2014
Tickets for Amleto will go on sale in late spring of 2014.
- Sunday, October 26 2pm
- Friday, October 31 7:30pm
- Sunday, November 2 2pm
About the Project
Opera Southwest will present composer Franco Faccio’s (best known as conductor of the premieres of Aida and Otello) adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Amleto) in the fall of 2014. Premiered in 1865 with a libretto by Arrigo Boito (who went on to fame as the librettist for Verdi’s Falstaff & Otello), it was conceived as an anti-Verdi/pro-Wagner manifesto for the “music of the future.” Amleto was a critical and audience success at its premiere, after which the Faccio and Boito joined Garibaldi’s forces. During their military travels, Faccio became more intimately acquainted with the music of Wagner, and made extensive revisions on his score in preparation for an 1871 Scala revival. That performance proved disastrous due to the illness of the leading tenor. Faccio was discouraged by the incident, and unlike Puccini’s rather plucky response to the initial fiasco of Madama Butterfly, Faccio withdrew the work, never to be performed again. Contrary to standard practice, a piano vocal score of the work was never made, and it languished in obscurity for over a century.
Part of my vision for Opera Southwest is the presentation of works outside of the standard repertoire. This was on display most recently with our production of Rossini’s Otello which had not been presented in the United States for 20 years, and which had never been presented with the alternate “joyful ending” that Rossini once composed for it. Amleto has not been performed anywhere since its disastrous La Scala revival in 1871. Producing the work at Opera Southwest would continue our commitment to producing off-the-beaten-path works, and give the world a fresh look at an historically important and musically beautiful opera.
I first became aware of an Italian Hamlet opera with a Boito libretto during my first season on the music staff of Sarasota Opera in the winter/spring of 2002. In 2003 I got in touch Gabriel Dotto, a musicologist living in Milan who had formerly worked with the Italian publishing house Ricordi. I had heard that many of the archives were destroyed during the war, and I wasn’t sure whether Ricordi would still have the autograph from Amleto. He replied: “As luck (and some rather heroic effort on the part of Ricordi management sixty years ago) would have it, no autographs of the historical archive were destroyed in the war, as the collection was secretly taken to a safe location.” (Though the “production copies” of scores, hire libraries, etc. were lost during the bombings).
Since Ricordi was at that time moving into a new home at the Biblioteca Brera in the heart of Milan, he sent my letter off to Maria Pia Ferraris, the head archivist of the newly opened Ricordi Archives. It turned out that Ricordi did have a microfilm of the autograph, and when it arrived I began the painstaking task of transcribing the manuscript. At the same time, my wife found a copy (again a microfilm) of Boito’s libretto at the Performing Arts Library in New York. The libretto was especially important since Faccio’s handwriting was difficult to decipher, and the quality of the autograph manuscript was poor. Acclaimed American musicologist and Verdi expert Phillip Gossett was incredibly generous in helping me figure out the handwriting idiosyncrasies in the score.
During the summer of 2005, while in Milan teaching a class on the Italian Futurist movement in music, I met in person with Maria Pia Ferraris, who allowed me to peruse the original manuscript as well as the only piano vocal score in existence: an autograph manuscript of Faccio’s own arrangement. That summer I spent hours looking at both autograph manuscripts, and returned to the United States to incorporate all of the new information into the scores I was creating. Since completing the full score and piano score, I conducted the American premiere of Ofelia’s Marcia Funebre with the Dallas Opera Orchestra in 2007. Opera Southwest’s production will represent the final stage in bringing this important and unjustly forgotten work back to life.
To Be Announced
Stage Director / David Bartholomew
Conductor / Anthony Barrese