A troubled genesis Un Ballo in Maschera is arguably one of most popular opera by Giuseppe Verdi. Yet it had the most troubled genesis. Written for the San Carlo in Naples and never performed there Un Ballo in Maschera was originally composed to be staged in Naples as the last new opera written under the contract between the Teatro San Carlo and Verdi but was never performed there. The major changes imposed by the Bourbon censorship to the composer convinced Verdi to premiere it in Rome instead. Even the Papal censorship in 1859 allowed him more freedom than that of the Bourbons’. Last (missed) opportunity for a Verdi’s “King Lear” Initially, Verdi had suggested to the San Carlo management another subject: King Lear by William Shakespeare, a long-term project that this time seemed to finally have found a right opportunity. But a new problem came up. To stage King Lear 2 or 3 strong soloists were not enough: 5 at least were needed and the San Carlo couldn’t provide them. These circumstances convinced Verdi, after over 15 years, to finally abandon the project of staging a music version of King Lear. Verdi & Shakespeare Verdi was a great admirer of […]
When the diva is a mezzo Romantic opera brought at the centre of the stage sopranos, heroines of every love drama composed by Bellini to Donizetti to Puccini passing through Verdi. Mezzo-sopranos in those days played somehow the part of “Cinderella”, before the meeting with the fairy Godmother. Relegated mostly to a secondary role, they were seldom able to share the popularity and admiration granted to the leading sopranos of their time. Ebe Stignani, one of the most beautiful voices of the last century Take for example Ebe Stignani. Not many know her or who she was, yet she was one of the most beautiful voices and of the finest musicians of the last century. Ebe Stignani and Maria Callas Stignani was a main star at the Teatro Alla Scala while Maria Callas was just starting her cooperation with the Milan stage. Those were Callas’ difficult first years at La Scala, where she debuted in 1950 as a replacement to Renata Tebaldi in Aida. There was certainly a pre-established criticism if not hostility and even a lack of interest for Callas’ vocal talents, that kept growing till 1953 when, after a Norma with Stignani, the Greek soprano left Italy to return […]
Frederick II was one of the most fascinating figure in medieval history. His power was immense: King of Sicily and Jerusalem, Emperor of the Romans, King of Italy and Germany. His kingdom extended from the northern sea to Sicily and, on the east, to Israel and Lebanon.
Luciano Pavarotti, the gourmet Luciano Pavarotti, one of the greatest tenors of our time, was born, as some know, in Modena, one of the culinary centres of Italy, with excellent restaurants – indeed some of the best in the country. One of the best-known delicacies of the Modena area is Gnocco Fritto or “fried pancake”, an original and very tasty substitute for bread. Pavarotti’s father, just like Mascagni’s, was a baker. That could be among the reasons why Big Luciano, who was also famously a gourmet, was particularly fond of this most delicious local recipe. Gnocco Fritto: a very tasty substitute for bread On its own or accompanied by cured meats or cheese, the best way to enjoy gnocco fritto is when still hot, with a generous slice of pancetta (bacon) on top. It can be also served cold as a snack any time of the day. In Modena people would have it even for breakfast, accompanied by a nice cappuccino. Gnocco fritto is essentially fried dough and generally, comes in a rectangular shape. As it customary in Italy, the recipe which main ingredients are flour, water, and yeast, has many different versions and it’s even referred to in different […]