Vincenzo Bellini maintained throughout his life a strong bond with his hometown, where he lived till the age of 16. Some argue that his rejection for rules and rutine resulted somehow from that archaic and provincial world. Born to “seduce and conquest” Bellini indeed broke into the Italian musical lands cape as someone coming from another world. May be that’s part of the reason why he was able unveil and unleash the potential of musical drama, far and beyond the traditional bonds and cliché of the Neapolitan school.
At the end of 19th century it became clear that the style used in opera until 1890s couldn’t be used any more: the great social and cultural changes demanded new ways to express and increase the dramatic tension. The music coming from abroad (oltr’alpe-beyond the Alps) was becoming increasingly important. The new younger generation of composers, such as Puccini and Mascagni, where influenced not only by Wagner but also by younger composers such as Claude Debussy and Richard Strauss. Pelléas et Melisande premiered in 1902, Salome (1905) and Electra (1909), Strauss’s two breaking through operas, had a rapid success. Change demanded from older composers a conscious and radical effort while for those born after 1875 and used to the new music as part of their musical landscape, the transition to new ways of composing operas was more spontaneous, although different in nature and magnitude for each composer. Some composer intended their relationship with nineteenth-century Italian opera as “evolutionary” and continued to work within the traditional framework using at times new techniques and dramatic themes. Others felt that Italian music needed to break free from an opera that had become a stale entertainment for the new middle class and that a […]
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 […]
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 […]