Le Teatro dell’Opera di Roma
Unique, long, and troubled has been the history of Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, from its turbulent beginning to its current prestigious status in Rome. The construction of the building was trusted to Achille Sfondrini by Costanzi in 1879, who fulfilled the ambitious dream of his father, Domenico Costanzi. As a result, the Milanese architect, being a theatre construction specialist, gave priority to the acoustic system through a structure horseshoe-shaped designed as a sounding board to amplify the sound of performances. There were three floors of boxes, a theater, and a gallery that could hold up to 2,212 spectators, all crowned by a splendid dome painted by Peruvian artist Annibale Brugnoli.
The capital finally had its “hearth” for opera. The theatre’s construction was only completed within eighteen months. The theatre opened it’s doors on 27 November 1880 with Semiramide by Gioachino Rossini in the presence of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. This was the beginning of the theatre’s activity, which was entirely due to the economic and organizational efforts of Costanzi himself, who managed the theatre as the Government refused to assume its management. Thanks to Costanzi and later his son Enrico, the capital’s theatre could host the world premieres of operas that later became essential pillars of the universal opera repertoire. Among them, two premieres were particularly significant: Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, which premiered on 17 May 1890, and Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, which premiered on 14 January 1900. In 1907, the skillful Walter Mocchi took the theatre’s management and eventually entrusted the direction to his wife, the soprano Emma Carelli. Thus, the “Impresa Costanzi” was born, and many new productions were performed on the Roman stage, primarily thanks to the wise and careful direction of Mme Carelli for 14 years. These productions included La fanciulla del West, Turandot et Il Trittico de Puccini, Parsifal de Wagner, Samson et Dalila de Saint-Saëns et les légendaires Ballets Russes de Djagilev. It would take a while, until 1926, for official recognition to happen: at the request of Mussolini, the Municipality of Rome bought the Costanzi Theatre, which became the “Teatro Reale dell’Opera.” As a result of this transfer, a renovation was carried out: the architect Marcello Piacentini moved the theatre entrance to the square (later called Beniamino Gigli) to offer more space to the numerous spectators who were gathering under the porticoes during performances. The interior was newly decorated. A majestic chandelier hanging above illuminated the stalls with its twenty-seven thousand crystal droplets. In 1946 the theater welcomed the newly formed Italian Republic and became the “Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.” In 1958, Piacentini definitively renovated the theatre, given the upcoming Olympic Games. The renewal has given the theatre the appearance that spectators can still admire today. More than a hundred years of success have brought to the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma the most appreciated voices, the most prestigious conductors, and the musical notes that have determined its fate. Virtuosos such as Pietro Mascagni, Giacomo Puccini, and Ottorino Respighi have contributed to its status in the history of Italian melodrama and have made it the cradle of the 20th century verismo opera and musical theatre.
Time passes transforming everything. Especially, love and its actors. It is the starting point of the one-act ballet directed and choreographed by Giuliano Peparini.
During the seasons, four couples meet – four stories are told: from the first glances that seek each other with modesty (spring) to the fires of passion (summer) and then to their gradual extinction (autumn) until the relationship freezes (winter). On stage, the roots of a giant tree burrow into the deep emotions that the dancers go through… Distraught in the face of time, nature repeats its miracles and holds up a mirror to us as if to say: “Look at yourselves!”
Antonio Vivaldi’s music, like an Haute-Couture dress, perfectly matches the dancers’ movements to this rush of feelings. The “chassés-croisés” is interpreted and performed beautifully by the Orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, particularly by the violin soloist Vincenzo Bolognese.
From one season to the next, Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in F minor K. 466 is performed on piano by Antonio Maria Pergolizzi. Other musical elements flourish within the performance: Nancy (with the Laughing Face) by Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers, sung by Frank Sinatra; Summertime by George Gershwin, Edwin DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin; Les feuilles mortes by Jacques Prévert and Joseph Kosma sung by Yves Montand.
The narration and transitions of this show are carried by the voice of the great Italian actor Alessandro Preziosi. He whispers in our ears a series of texts and poems: E poi fate l’amore by Alda Merini, an excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, Crescita d’amore by John Donne, Estate by Cesare Pavese, Autunno by Vincenzo Cardarelli and Le foglie morte by Jacques Prévert. Each word underlines, in turn, the bewitchments, the tenderness, and the traps that the bodies feel in front of passionate love.
To accompany this procession of seasons where the dancers make and unmake the bonds of love, the decor as well as costumes and scenography make this subtle universe tangible. This delicacy is manifested thanks to the technical talents of Andrea Miglio and Anna Biagiotti. Lastly, the lights of Alessandro Caso and the videos created by Edmondo Angelelli and Giuliano Peparini complete the heart of this show, making it truly unique.