Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa 2021 -2022 Review: Il Turco In Italia

Scopelliti Shines In A Colorful Production Of Rossini’s Masterpiece

By Alan Neilson
(Credit: Teatro Carlo Felice)

In 2021 the Teatro Carlo Felice Genova Foundation, under the artistic direction of Francesco Meli, launched its Accademia di Alto Perfezionamento, a course aimed at perfecting and consolidating the skills of young professional singers, with lessons in vocal technique, musical interpretation, and theatrical art, under the guidance of internationally renowned artists, which culminated in the opportunity for them to appear in a fully staged production of “L’Elisir D’Amore,” which was included as part of the theater’s opera season.

This year’s course was comprised of 12 singers, already in possession of “adequate technique and vocal qualities,” who were offered the complete and necessary training to prepare them for performances in Rossini’s “Il Turco in Italia,” which was performed as the final work of the theater’s 2021 – 2022 opera season.

The singers were divided into two groups of six, allowing for two casts, each of which were given three performances. This review was of the final performance on June 16, the overall impression of which was very positive. All the singers performed with a high degree of professionalism and met the necessary standards one would expect from a professional opera company. None of them seemed at all out of place, they all appeared to be well on their way to careers as professional opera singers.

Standout Performance From Scopelliti

Soprano Giulia Scopelliti in the role of Fiorilla was excellent, producing what was certainly the standout performance of the evening. She possesses a versatile, securely founded voice, with an alluring timbre which she used skillfully and confidently to create a strongly defined flirtatious, headstrong character, reinforced by some fine acting. Moreover, it was a consistent performance, one in which arias, recitatives, and ensemble numbers were all intelligently crafted to bring out the meaning of the text and the emotional state, which she displayed brilliantly in Act two, scene 16, when she discovers that Don Geronio is expelling her from his house, and returning her back to a life of poverty. Consisting of an intense passage of recitative followed by the aria “Squallida veste, e bruna” and ending with the cabaletta “Caro padre, madre amata,” Scopelliti gave voice to Fiorilla’s feelings with an emotionally rich and detailed rendition, which showed off her expressive, intelligently accented phrasing and excellent technique, which included beautifully crafted passages of trilling and a strong coloratura, a performance for which she received loud and sustained applause from the audience.

Bass Alessandro Abis was an impressive looking Selim, who acted out the part with a confident swagger. He possesses a deep, rich voice with an attractive timbre, which he is able to inflect with an array of colors and carefully placed accents, which he used successfully to develop his character. However, although his vocal projection was strong, there was on occasions a lack of consistency in the vocal line, which had a tendency to diminish mid-phrase.

Tenor Gianpiero Delle Grazie was a suitably staid and decent Don Geronio, whose sufferings at the hands of his flirtatious wife became more intense as the opera moved forward. His recitatives were expressively delivered and clearly articulated, while his aria and ensemble singing showed off his attractive timbre and vocal flexibility. His verbally dextrous rendition of the aria “Se ho da dirla, avrei molto piacere” caught the attention with his ability to craft lively lines of quick-fire patter, while his duet “Per piacere alla signora” with Scopelliti was particularly pleasing, in which both singers combined sensitively to produce a well-balanced performance.

Tenor Dave Monaco as Don Narciso took time to accustom himself to the situation. During the first act, his performance was relatively lightweight. Although he displayed his sweet-toned tenor to good effect, his characterization lacked any sense of dramatic urgency. Towards the end of the first act and into Act two, however, he came alive and started to dominate his character, with what was an expressively forceful performance. His high point was the aria “Intesi: ah tutto intesi” in which he showed off his vocal agility, animated phrasing, and pleasing coloratura, in what was a complete transformation of his Act one performance.

The poet Posdocimo was parted by bass Janusz Nosek, who produced a strongly defined character. His acting had a larger than life element to it, allowing him to assume the necessary superiority, as he commented on the theater which was unfolding before him. Although without an aria, he sang well in the ensembles and his recitatives were rich in nuance and expressivity, which he supported with a fine acting performance.

Mezzo-soprano Gabriella Ingenito produced an inconsistent performance in the role of Zaida. Certainly, she is not without talent! Her voice has a pleasing tone, which climbs nicely into the upper register, which she used sensitively to characterize the role, and she has a lively, bright stage presence. However, on occasions, she was too tentative in her approach, and it appeared as if her nerves had unsettled her slightly, and she never managed to realize the full potential of the role.

The inclusion of the oft cut aria “Al! Sarebbe troppo dolce” gave the tenor, Matteo Straffi, every opportunity to display his quality in the relatively small role of Albazar, for which he produced a solid performance, successfully showing off the pleasing timbre and the versatility of his voice. His acting was suitably crafted.

Quatrini’s Energetic Conducting Sets The Tone

It is always a rewarding experience to cast an eye on Maestro Sesto Quatrini in the pit, whose animated and energetic conducting style has a captivating quality in itself, and this performance did not disappoint. His lively and animated approach was reflected in the sound produced by the Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice, which was rhythmically sound, attentive to the dramatic pace and twists of the drama, and apart from some rude interruptions from the horns was also thoroughly engaging, although there was a little heaviness in some of the lighter sections. The considerable time he spent working with the singers showed in the support he provided for the cast, who were never forced to compete with the orchestra.

A Timeless Staging

The staging was a representation of a production from 1985 with sets by Emanuele Luzzati and costumes by Santuzza Cali. Although now over 30 years old the staging has lost none of its luster, and without being forewarned of the fact it could easily have passed for a staging from the present day. His starting point comes from the character of Posdocimo, the poet, who is searching for a subject for a new play. Luzzati, therefore, turns the stage into a theater, in which the drama unfolds with the poet commenting, as he watches on, and thereby turning it into a meta-theatrical experience. The set designs are deliberately of a cardboard cut-out nature so that the blue theater boxes are populated with cartoon figures, which gives the stage a playful appearance. Cali’s costumes were designed to meet our understanding of the era’s fashions, and our ideas of oriental Turkish dress, but in which everything was bright and flamboyantly colored, so that along with Luzzati’s sets, and Luciano Novelli’s sensitive lighting, the stage always managed to please and captivate the audience.

Nunziata’s direction was nicely crafted to work in harmony with the staging, in which he successfully and cleverly played up the comedy, although not without also exposing the underlying pain which lies at the heart of the drama. In a nod to the memory of Luzzati, Nunziata introduced a group of five Pulcinella figures from the commedia dell’arte, who were used to move the drama forward and add humor to the proceedings. They were also used as a successful means of moving props onto and off the stage without the need for intrusive stagehands. Having them huffing and puffing as they hauled Selim’s boat onto the stage with ropes, for example, was amusing and in keeping with the production’s infantile sets. The fact that they could not be seen by the cast, apart from Posdocimo, opened up numerous possibilities for further amusement. Always up to something, their presence meant that the action never slowed, and their miming, choreographed superbly by Danilo Rubeca was always graceful and imaginative, and kept the audience chuckling throughout.

All in all, this was a most enjoyable and insightful performance of “Il Turco in Italia.” The sets and costumes augmented by Nunziata’s direction were colorful and cheerful and captured the superficiality of the humor brilliantly while uncovering the pain which besets human relationships. The singers all engaged enthusiastically and professionally with their roles, which successfully brought the drama to life, and ultimately proved the worth of the Teatro Carlo Felice Foundation’s education initiative.


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