RNCM Opera Scenes: Wednesday 22 June

La finta semplice
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Marco Coltellini

Bonnie Callaghan Rosina
Keren Hadas Ninetta
Lucy Wallis Giacinta
Daniel Nardone Polidoro
Jay Broadhurst Fracasso
James Connolly Cassandro
Theodore Murphy-Jelley Simone

Xinjie Yang Conductor
Garth Bardsley Director
Jacob Swindells Repetiteur
Antonia Sotgiu Language Coach

In 1768 on the suggestion of Emperor Joseph II (with perhaps encouragement from Leopold Mozart) the 12-year-old Mozart embarked on composing his fourth opera, La finta semplice.  Early on in rehearsals, the work was warmly received by the singers and musicians. However, the opera soon became victim of both Coltellini’s desire for rewrites as well as a stream of vicious gossip (purportedly arising from competing composers including Gluck) suggesting the opera was in fact the work of the boy’s father and not of the child prodigy himself. Consequently, the opera’s premiere was cancelled and the Mozart family left Vienna empty-handed: the fee was never paid and Leopold’s desire that his son could establish himself in Vienna as an opera composer was thwarted. The opera received its first performance in Salzburg on May 1st the following year at the request of the Prince-Archbishop.

Captain Fracasso wants to marry Giacinta. His sergeant, Simone, wants to marry her chambermaid, Ninetta. The lovers cannot succeed without the consent of Giacinta’s dyed-in-the-wool misogynist brothers, Cassandro and the dim-witted Polidoro. Fracasso’s sister, Rosina, comes to the rescue and posing as a naïve innocent, attempts to woo both the brothers in order to make them agree to the marriages. Polidoro wants to present Ninetta with a letter she requested but to his surprise is rejected. Cassandro arrives and Ninetta pretends she wrote the letter for him. She asks to be lent Cassandro’s ring as a way of worrying Polidoro – he resists and when she tries to leave, he invites Ninetta and her friends to dine with him so that he can keep an eye on the ring.

La Cenerentola
Music by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Jacopo Ferretti 

Anusha Bobby Clorinda
Olivia Sanders Robinson Tisbe
Kanchana Jaishankar Angelica
Jermyn Leong Alidoro

Phil Trudgeon Conductor
Garth Bardsley Director
James Gillett Repetiteur
Antonia Sotgiu Language Coach 

Based on the 17th century fairy tale Cendrillon (Cinderella) by Charles Perrault, La Cenerentola was written in just three weeks and was premiered in Rome’s Teatro Valle on 25 January 1817. Coming one year after the twenty-five-year old’s masterpiece, Il barbiere di Siviglia, and, following a somewhat bumpy start, the opera proved to be equally popular. It was Jacopi Ferretti’s first notable success and established the librettist’s reputation and a career that would last some 30 years and see him collaborating five times with Gaetano Donizetti.

Clorinda and Tisbe, daughters of Don Magnifico, are in the middle of one of their usual arguments. Their stepsister, Angelina (but who they call Cenerentola) is treated as nothing more than a servant. Much to the sisters’ annoyance, she sings her favourite song, about a king who married a common girl. Suddenly Alidoro, tutor to the prince Don Ramiro, enters, dressed as a beggar. The stepsisters want to send him away, but Cenerentola gives him bread and coffee. It is announced that Ramiro will soon pay a visit: he is looking for the most beautiful girl in the land and will hold ball to choose his bride – the sisters are beside themselves and Cenerentola is put to work!

The Adventures of Pinocchio
Music by Jonathan Dove
Libretto by Alasdair Middleton

Dominic Mattos Fox
Zihua Zhang Cat
Phoebe Watts Pinocchio
Anusha Bobby Ghost of Cricket
Cherie Tse Blue Fairy

Phil Trudgeon Conductor
Garth Bardsley Director
Sheldon Miller Repetiteur

Commissioned by Opera North and Sadler’s Wells Theatre, The Adventures of Pinocchio received its premiere at the Grand Theatre in Leeds in 2007. Conducted by David Parry and directed by Martin Duncan it starred RNCM alumnus and now vocal tutor in the faculty, Mary Plazas, as the Blue Fairy; ‘It was like being a part of a magical, fairytale world set inside an enchanted story book. A world of gritty, dark menace – the hard lessons of life alongside the true heart of life…Love. There’s a driving force or pulse within the rhythm of the music and in creating these roles for specific singers, Jonathan wrote not just for the range of the voice but with the expression he knew we would bring to the colour of the phrasing and the language – how lucky we were!’

The story is at times alarming! From the moment Geppetto creates Pinocchio from a log, the little wooden boy gets into one scrape after another! Having been given five gold coins by the puppet-master, Pinocchio is preyed upon by the perfectly unpleasant pair, Cat and Fox, who weave him a tale of magical riches coming from the (mythical) Field of Miracles.  Ignoring the warnings from a Ghostly Cricket, Pinocchio determines to see the Field of Miracles and make his fortune in an instant only to be accosted once again by the Cat and Fox who decide to hang him up high!