The creative team behind the Latvian National Opera’s internationally acclaimed staging of Faust highlights the little-known one-act opera L’incantesimo by Italo Montemezzi and playwright Sem Benelli. This opera has most likely only been staged in Europe once, over 60 years ago in the Verona Arena in Italy. In this new production’s concept L’incantesimo, one of the last works of Italian melodic opera, interplays with Pagliacci, which is another excellent example of the verismo style of opera composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo.
“Disregarding that both works are written in a verismo style, and that the story is virtually the same – a love triangle, jealousy and treachery – they are written in different genres. The opera L’incantesimo is a lyrical medieval fairytale where romance alternates with fantasies and allegories, whereas Pagliacci is realistic. To bring out both styles our creative team will create an opportunity for viewers to take a journey not only through different time periods, but also different worlds,“ explains the director of the production, Aik Karapetian.
WITH THE PARTICIPATION OF ARTE G.E.I.E
Medieval castle at the foot of the Italian Alps.
It is snowing. Folco impatiently awaits the arrival of Count Rinaldo. His wife Giselda, whom Rinaldo had once wished to marry, wants to know why this meeting is so important. Folco tells her that his friend is on his way with a necromacer, Salomone. He hopes that the old man will be able to explain a strange event that recently took place while he was out hunting.
Rinaldo arrives. He discloses to his host that Salomone’s influnce has changed him, and that he has learned to see beyond the apparent. Folco is impatient, and suspicious, but starts to tell the stranger his story...
Folco explains that his thirst for adventure led him deep into the forest to hunt a wolf. After managing to outwit the beast, and it lies defeated, Folco caught sight of a bewitching doe which seemed to posses remarkably human features. His blood still running hot from the fight with the wolf, Folco chased the doe with a spear when suddenly the doe’s face turned into Giselda’s! Unable to control his blood lust the doe ended up lying bleeding in the snow. Distraught, Folco ran away from her pleading, pitiful gaze.
Giselda is unsettled by what she hears. Salomone explains that love is a concept foreign to Folco, and that only death stirs any feelings of mercy in him. Fearing that Giselda will have to perish as well, Folco demands that the necromacer advises him on how to avoid this fate.
Salomone explains that in order to prove his love, Folco has to go back to where he killed the doe. The wounded creature will have to be brought home if he is able to recognize the form of his loved one in the animal as is a sign that Folco and Giselda’s love is strong enough to withstand any threats. Folco sets out to fulfill his quest.
With Folco gone, Rinaldo confesses to Giselda that he still loves her, and talks to her about all-consuming love which can accomplish anything. Giselda wishes for Rinaldo to prove the magic of the love he describes to her by transforming the fiercely snowy night into a blossoming spring morning. If he can do this, then Giselda vows to be his. In the forset Folco desperately looks for Giselda, but all that he can see is the body of the doe. Salomone reveals that Folco’s magic has ended forever. The snowy night changes into a beautiful spring morning, and Giselda is finally convinced that love can conquer all.
Tonio appears on stage to inform the audience that the performance they are about to see is based on real events, that actors feel love and suffering just like anyone else.
A troupe of performers arrives at an Italian village. Their leader, Canio, announces that evening’s performance to the villagers. The locals invite the actors for drinks. Canio asks one of the actors, Tonio, to join them, but he declines. A villager jokes that Tonio is probably secretly off to meet Canio’s wife, the much younger Nedda. Canio warns those within earshot that he will not tolerate any kind of flirtation or attention paid to his wife off the stage, making clear that life and theatre are not the same.
The villagers and actors disperse. Nedda is worried about her husband’s jealousy, and watches the birds above, envious of their freedom to fly where they want to. Tonio arrives and harasses the young woman. Nedda slaps him to get away. Angered, Tonio swears revenge.
Meanwhile Nedda actually has a lover, a young lad by the name of Silvio, who has just arrived to see her. He loves Nedda and urges her to run away with him that night. Tonio has overheard their conversation and hurries to warn Canio, but Silvio manages to flee undetected. Angered, Canio attacks Nedda who refuses to reveal her lover’s name. Peppe, a member of the troupe, restrains Canio, and Tonio suggests he waits for the performance that evening as he is sure the guilty party will arrive and give himself away. Alone again, Canio expresses his anguish – tonight he must play the role of the clown Pagliaccio, but inside his heart is breaking.
An audience gathers, and Silvio is among them. The Harlequin, played by Peppe, serenades Columbine, played by Nedda. Columbina is about to let the Harlequin into her room, but she is interrupted by the servant Tadeo, played by Tonio, who comically professes his love for her. The Harlequin chases him away, and both lovers discuss their plan of escape. Columbina’s husband, Pagliaccio, played by Canio, turns up unexpectedly. Unable to separate his real feelings from his acting Canio demands that Nedda name her lover. She stubbornly refuses and tries to keep the play going. The audience watches enthralled. Canio cannot bear it any longer and pulls out a knife. Overcome by feelings of anger and revenge he stabs Nedda, and later also Silvio who has rushed up to help his loved one. Canio then proclaims, to a horrified audience, that "The comedy is finished!".
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Lauma Mellēna-Bartkeviča. Kroders.lv