Donizetti Opera Festival to Present ‘Chiara e Serafina’

By Francisco Salazar

The Donizetti Opera Festival is set to present the rarely performed “Chiara e Serafina.”

The work, which will receive performances on Nov. 19, 25, and Dec. 4, will be conducted by Sesto Quatrini and will star Pietro Spagnoli alongside soloists of the Academy of specialization for opera singers of Teatro alla Scala. These singers include Matías Moncada, Nicole Wacker, Greta Doveri, Davide Park, Damien Park, Valentina Pluzhnikova, Mara Gaudenzi, Andrea Tanzillo, and Giuseppe De Luca.

“Così finirà l’opera: o bene o male”  is what Donizetti wrote in his own hand on the last page of the manuscript of Chiara e Serafina. Unfortunately, when he debuted this work at Teatro alla Scala it did not go at all well, and after just 12 performances the opera fell into complete oblivion for two whole centuries.

In a statement Quatrini noted, “today, thanks to Donizetti Opera, the festival wholly devoted to Bergamo’s composer, we have the honor and the duty of redeeming it. It is true that the weak story-line derived from La Citerne (a French melodrama from 1806), the libretto put together hurriedly and, in places, inconsistently by Felice Romani, and the fact that Donizetti was forced to compose the opera in just twelve days, all contributed to the difficulties of bringing ‘Chiara e Serafina’ to life, despite the interesting sections in the score and the many characteristics that are noteworthy from a musicological point of view.  I would go so far as to describe ‘Chiara e Serafina’ as one of Donizetti’s early ‘workshop operas’ that were to become the reservoir into which he would dip frequently for the creation of his later masterpieces.”