Backgrounds and foregrounds

Through the descriptions contained in set’s captions concerning the urban backgrounds, we can see the town concept suggested to spectators. Paris, as a great european metropolis, is one of the images which appears, with more insistence in the XIX Century Italian librettos. A town of perdition, above all for female characters, in Linda di Chamounix and in La Traviata, is evokated in the dialogues, but it never appears. We can find realistic datas from a geographical point of view in Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan first scene, where we can discerne the Louvre palace beyond the windows. In Umberto Giordano’s Mme Sans Gêne first act, the urban guerilla takes place in the street beyond the laundry’s windows. Cilea’s Adriana Lecourvreur second act reveals a bridge and the Seine in the background beyond the Grande Battelière cottage. Some town’s detailed descriptions are met in Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier second act, where Feuillants terrace appears, with Hottot café, and the Péronnet Bridge. In Puccini’s Bohème we can see The Latin Quartier, and the d’Enfer barrier.
The elements appearing in the background, besides having a great importance for the action, are the most significative shapes for an age imagination. The water, for instance, in its different declinations represents one of the most considerable examples from this point of view. The sea is a familiar presence in Donizetti’s opera (Maria Stuarda, Dom Sebastien, Lucia di Lammermoor, Lucrezia Borgia, Furioso all’isola Santo Domingo); in Verdi’s production, (Vespri Siciliani, Simon Boccanegra, Otello) and in the one of the end of Nineteenth Century composers (Ponchielli, Puccini, Bottesini, Pizzetti). For Simone Boccanegra and Otello, this natural element is not a simple landscape frame, but a decisive place in characters’ identity construction. For the genoese Doge, the sea is an object of contemplation, a memory place. In the Grimaldi’s garden, it is the background for private meeting between Amelia and Gabriele, between the first and the Doge in the ricognition scene. In the third act, it appears beyond the city. In the room where the third scene takes place, Simone is istinctively searching for the contact with “his” sea, while is reflecting and believing while he is feeling the syntoms of the desease provocated by the poison, which he ignores to have drunk.

Doge: M’ardon le tempia…un’atra/vampa sento/serpeggiar per le vene…Ah! ch’io respiri/l’aura beata del libero cielo!/oh refrigerio!…la marina brezza!…Il mare!… Il mare!…quale in rimirarlo/di glorie e di sublimi rapimenti/mi si affaccian ricordi! – Il mare!…il mare!…/perché in suo grembo non trovai la tomba?…

Read more

Italian version


Leave a Reply