Germany(SANEPR.com) June 13, 2007 -- Based on an article by Liam Otten for the Washington University Record
Hugh Macdonald, the Avis H. Blewett Professor of Music in Arts & Sciences, at St. Louis Washington University has prepared a performing edition of Fiesque (1866-68), a previously unperformed opera by French composer Eduardo Lalo (1823-92).
The piece which received its concert premiere July 2006 at Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier will reciece its fully staged world premiere on June 16, 2007 in Mannheim at the German National Theater where Schillers play Die Verschwoerung des Fiesco zu Genua was premiered in 1784.
Lalo is probably best known for his Symphonie Espagnole (1874) — a flamboyant violin concerto that remains a popular work in the violin repertoire — and for his celebrated Cello Concerto in D minor (1877).
Born in Lille, France, to a family of Spanish descent, Lalo studied violin at the Paris Conservatoire and began composing in the 1840s. In 1855, he helped form the Armingaud Quartet to promote the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Mendelssohn. In 1865, he married the contralto Julie Bernier de Maligny, who performed many of his songs.
Lalo wrote Fiesque, his first opera, for a competition sponsored by Paris' Théatre-Lyrique. It is based on the play Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua (Fiesco: Or the Genoese Conspiracy) by Friedrich von Schiller, a leading 18th-century German dramatist and poet, whose "Ode to Joy" was adopted as text for the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
Set in Genoa, Italy, in 1547, Fiesque follows the struggle between the republican Count Fiesco and the city's ruling Doria family of doges. Matters are complicated by Fiesco's feelings for Julie Doria, a daughter of the family, which in turn arouse the jealousy of Fiesco's own wife, Leonore.
Though the Dorias are ultimately overthrown, Fiesco's triumph is cut short when Verrina, a fellow republican disillusioned with Fiesco's ambition, throws him into the harbor.
The Mannheim cast is led by the renowned tenor Francesco Petrozzi as Fiesco and soprano Galina Shesterneva as Leonore.
"There is much in the score of magnificent quality," Macdonald said. "The vocal writing is assured and effective, and Lalo generated a strong feeling of movement in choral scenes.
"For a first opera, the music is extraordinarily deft and varied," Macdonald added, "occasionally pompous but never dull, and full of brilliantly successful numbers."
To Lalo's disappointment, Fiesque placed third in the Théatre-Lyrique competition and never received a performance. Macdonald speculates that the poor reception may have resulted from the work's emphasis on republican ideals as well as from the left-wing political leanings of its librettist, Charles Beauquier.
Nevertheless, Lalo continued composing for the stage. In 1881 he completed the opera Roi d'Ys, based on a Breton legend, though it too initially failed to find a venue. Yet in 1888, Lalo received a degree of vindication when Roi d'Ys was finally performed, to general acclaim, at the Opéra-Comique.
For more information visit: http://www.nationaltheater-mannheim.de/oper/4868/detail/