From 31 October to 6 November 2022, the Autumn Trilogy celebrates its 10th anniversary and in this occasion the protagonists are Mozart and Da Ponte’s masterpieces: Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte.
To conducted Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini will be respectively Giovanni Conti, Erina Yashima and Tais Conte Renzetti, the young conductors who – after being selected by Riccardo Muti – partecipated in the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy High Training Course.

From October 31 to November 6: Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte

1783, Wien: a young composer met an Italian poet; the name of the former is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the name of the latter Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is one of the happiest circumstances in the history of musical theatre, a partnership that has given us what has always been, in the heart of opera lovers, the trilogy par excellence. And the 10th anniversary of the Autumn Trilogy, which Ravenna Festival introduced in 2012, is celebrated precisely with Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, which will take turns on the stage of the Alighieri Theatre, evening after evening, from 31 October to 6 November. Thus, the Festival crowns its 33rd edition with three productions for which it joins forces with two of Europe’s oldest theatres, the Swedish Drottningholms Slottsteater and the Opéra Royal de Versailles. On the podium of the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, will be Giovanni Conti, Erina Yashima, and Tais Conte Renzetti; they have in common the attendance of Riccardo Muti’s Italian Opera Academy. Ivan Alexandre directs; Antoine Fontaine, who also takes care of the lighting with Alexandre, curates the costume design.

“They are three different plays, but performed with aesthetic harmony – explains director Ivan Alexandre, who has worked for the Wiener Staatsoper, Palais Garnier, and Salzburg’s Mozartwoche – and telling the story of the same character: a libertine we call Cherubino in his youth, Don Giovanni in adulthood, and Don Alfonso at a later age. So the love-crazed youth turns into a heart-breaker who, when old enough, encourages the young people to re-enact his vices. It is as if one heart were beating in three different chests, a ‘cycle of desire’ within which each title can exist on its own. Bringing all three to stage as a sequence, however, gives particular meaning to each one and makes a coherent whole. They are three moments in a love life, crafted from the same material; familiar dramas in which everyday life turns into an extraordinary adventure. We wanted to return to the spontaneity of the touring theatres of the past: make-up tables, clothes valets, and screens are scattered across the stage. There are no wings, nothing is on the hangers (except for a few lights), there are no traps, only a few wooden structures and a few sketches on moving canvas.”

The staging is not only a subtle game that interweaves stage and backstage to celebrate the magnificent “machine” of the musical theatre, but also an insightful commentary on the narrative devices Mozart and Da Ponte employed. Whereas in Le nozze di Figaro (31 Oct, 4 Nov) the set design grows from one act to the next and the action takes place at the front of the stage, Don Giovanni (1, 5 Nov)– the original Praga version of 1787, because “clearer, more natural and livelier”–is performed in perspective. The hero is in the foreground, while the other characters–the valet, the women, the rival–always fall a step behind the unsurpassed seducer. The main character looks back only once, when he is seized by doubt for the first time in his life, for a few instants, before he disappears. Così fan tutte (2, 6 Nov) features a circular trend on two levels: the collective stage and a central stage where, in turns, the women play the role of the loyal and abandoned lovers, the men that of the suitors; a game where the roles are subverted under the gaze of Don Alfonso, master of ceremonies: the female performers become spectators, the male performance become the performance.

All coming from paths of excellence, the three young conductors were students of the Academy Riccardo Muti created in 2015 to pass on his experience of the extraordinary heritage of Italian opera to the next generation of musicians, but also to the public (the Academy returns to Ravenna’s Alighieri Theatre from 2 to 15 December to focus on Verdi’s Requiem). Erina Yashima, born in Germany to a Japanese family, took part in the Academy’s first edition and then became Muti’s assistant in Chicago, as she was awarded the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprenticeship; after her work as assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, she is now first Kapellmeister of the Komische Oper Berlin. The other two conductors were both admitted to the 2020 Academy: Giovanni Conti, born in Varese, studied in Milan and Stuttgart and was awarded the “CAMPUS dirigieren” first prize among the best conduction students of the German conservatoires; this season, he is going to take on the role of Kapellmeister of the Krefeld-Mönchengladbach Theatre. Tais Conte Renzetti was born in Brazil and, after her studies in Wien and Italy, was the assistant of Brazilian conductor Martinho Lutero de Galati within his musical association Rete Culturale Cantosospeso in Milan.

Over the course of four acts, the story of Le nozze di Figaro unfolds (and twists) around the attempt by the Conte di Almaviva–whose role is entrusted to baritone Clemente Antonio Daliotti, already the brilliant protagonist of Transitus in the Basilica di San Vitale in June–to impose the ius primae noctis on Susanna (who has the unmistakable timbre of Arianna Vendittelli), maid of the Countess (Ana Maria Labin, acclaimed Mozart interpreter) and betrothed to the Figaro of Robert Gleadow, whose striking stage presence is one of the common threads of this Trilogy (the Canadian bass-baritone appears in all three titles). Instead, it is the French-Italian mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre who takes on the role of the unforgettable Cherubino, one of the main driving forces behind the whirlwind of mocked husbands, cunning ladies-in-waiting, noblemen… The cast is completed by Manon Lamaison as Barbarina, Norman D. Patzke as Bartolo and Antonio, Valentina Coladonato as Marcellina, and Paco Garcia as Don Basilio and Don Curzio. At the fortepiano sits Lars Henrik Johansen, also involved in the other two titles; in this case, the choirs are entrusted to the singing company.

Where the Commedia dell’Arte meets the supernatural and the lyricism of “serious” opera, where the tragic and the comic coexist, there is Don Giovanni: Arianna Vendittelli and Robert Gleadow return to the stage as Donna Elvira and the servant Leporello, respectively, while the eponymous protagonist is the baritone Christian Federici (already involved in the 2019 Trilogy’s Carmen). His Don Giovanni, destined for a hellish finale after erotic and non-erotic escapades, attempts to seduce Iulia Maria Dan’s Donna Anna (betrothed to Julien Henric’s Don Ottavio) and ends up killing her father in a duel, the Commendatore played by bass Callum Thorpe, who in his native England works with the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and Opera North. In the spirit of the Commedia dell’Arte, which sees the performers alternating in different roles, Thorpe also plays the peasant Masetto, while his bride Zerlina–also the object of Don Giovanni’s aims–is Chiara Skerath. In this case, Antonio Greco leads the Luigi Cherubini Chorus.

The school of lovers referred to in the title of Così fan tutte has only one master: Don Alfonso (again Christian Federici) is the architect of the gamble that turns into a cruel hoax; his hilarious accomplice is the maid Despina, or Miriam Albano, a mezzo-soprano who was a soloist at the Vienna State Opera for years. The young officers Guglielmo and Ferrando, who bet on the fidelity of their fiancées, are Robert Gleadow and Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani, recently at the Festival with Accademia Bizantina for Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. Fiordiligi and Dorabella, who are seduced by each other’s fiancés, are Ana Maria Labin and José Maria Lo Monaco, who–like Vendittelli and Zorzi Giustiniani–made her Festival debut in the project dedicated to the Neapolitan School. The Chorus 1685 of the Istituto Superiore di Studi Musicali “Giuseppe Verdi” of Ravenna, again prepared by Antonio Greco, will perform this title.

“One out of every four spectators of this Trilogy comes from abroad: the return of foreign audiences is a step forward in the recovery of tourist and economic activities – points out Antonio De Rosa, Ravenna Festival’s General Manager – After ten years, we can see that the Trilogy conceived by Cristina Muti has not only enriched the Festival’s programmes but, by reaffirming the indissoluble bond with the City, has turned Ravenna into a beloved destination for opera-lovers from all over Europe and beyond. We are proud to be able to enhance the City’s quality cultural offer once again this year, with three international productions dedicated to Mozart and the great shared Italian opera tradition, entrusted also to our valiant and deserving Cherubini Orchestra.” “This year’s Trilogy also makes it possible to resume the dialogue with the schools – explains Angelo Nicastro, the Festival’s co-Artistic Director – The chance to attend the dress rehearsals of Mozart and Da Ponte’s masterpieces will be the first of the activities dedicated to the students. Activities that, starting from the Trilogy, meet the 2022/23 Opera Season of the Alighieri Theatre, thus opening a new chapter of the intense and rich path that, over the years, has brought over one hundred thousand young people, together with their teachers, to access the Alighieri Theatre, a magnificent example of Italian theatre, to discover the bounty of our musical heritage.”

Le nozze di Figaro – Monday, October 31 at 8:30 pm
Don Giovanni – Tuesday,  November 1 at 8:30 pm
Così fan tutte – Wednesday, November 2 at 8:30 pm
Le nozze di Figaro – Friday, November 4 at 8:30 pm
Don Giovanni – Saturday, November 5 at 8:30 pm
Così fan tutte – Sunday, November 6 at 3:30 pm


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