Nach Erstaufführungen im amerikanischen Albuquerque 2015 und Wilmington/Delaware 2016 (operalounge.de berichtete über beide) präsentiert nun Bregenz bei seinen diesjährigen Festspielen 2016 Franco Faccios vergessene Oper Amleto von 1865 – eine der spannendsten Opern-Wiederentdeckungen der letzten Jahre. Dazu gab uns Antonio Barrese, eminenter Dirigent und Musikwissenschaftler, vor allem aber Wiederentdecker und Restaurator der Partitur des Amleto ein ausführliches Interview zum Werk und den aufregenden Umständen der Ausgrabung in den Archiven des Musikverlages Ricordi, das wir hier aus gegebenem Anlass wiederholen. Von der Aufführung in Albuquerque gibt es inzwischen eine DVD und CD, allerdings aus Copyright-Gründen der Universal/Ricordi nur in den USA und nicht ins Ausland lieferbar… Die Aufführung in Bregenz wurde am 20. Juli 2016 in Ö1 Radio und ORF3 TV live übertragen und liegt nun auf DVD bei C-Major/ Unitel/ Bregenzer Festspiele vor. G. H.
Amleto von Faccio – zur Einführung: Ein fünfundzwanzigjähriger Komponist, dem bisher nur eine Vorstellung vergönnt war, und ein dreiundzwanzigjähriger Librettist bei der ersten bedeutenden Erfahrung mit einer Oper: der Musik und den Worten dieser beiden jungen Burschen, die die Kunstwelt von Kopf bis Fuß erneuern wollten, galt der Beifall des Genueser Publikums des Teatro Carlo Fenice.am 30. Mai 1865. Seitdem sind knapp 150 Jahre vergangen seit der Premiere von Amleto, eine tragedia irica in vier Akten, an die Franco Faccio, der Komponist, und Arrigo Boito, der Librettist, viele Erwartungen und Hoffnungen geknüpft hatten. Es handelte sich um ein wahres und tatsächliches Manifest der Scapliatura (= Liederlichkeit, literarische Protest-Bewegung in Mailand), aber die Aufnahme war einige Jahre danach eine ganz andere, als die Scala dieselben Noten ohne Wenn und Aber auspfiff.
Es lohnt sich, die Geschichte dieser Oper sich noch einmal ins Gedächtnis zu rufen, um die Gründe für den Misserfolg von 1871 zu verstehen, obwohl sie ohne Zweifel innovativ und originell war. Die Geschichte des Amleto von Faccio und Boito ist alles in allem eine kurze. Leider sind die Quellen nicht so zahlreich, wie man es erwarten könnte: Zum Beispiel weiß man von der Zeit vor der Komposition lediglich, dass die beiden jungen Leute voller Pläne und Initiativen waren, nachdem sie das Konservatorium von Mailand verlassen hatten. Warum ausgerechnet eine der bedeutendsten Tragödien Shakespeares? Es scheint so, als habe Boito begonnen, an dem Libretto noch vor I Fiamminghi zu arbeiten, das dann am 2. Juli 1862 in Polen vollendet wurde. Viel zahlreicher sind die Zeugnisse von diesem unseligen Genueser Premierenabend des Jahres 1865. Zur Besetzung gehörten bedeutende Sänger wie Mario Tiberini als Hamlet, Angiolina Ortolani-Tiberini als Ofelia, Elena Corani und Antonio Cotogni als Königin und König. Die Tatsache, dass das Teatro Carlo Felice zwei fast Unbekannte akzeptiert hatte, ist auf das persönliche Eingreifen von Alberto Mazzuccato zurück zu führen, der am Konservatorium Lehrer Boitos gewesen war und Freund des Dirigenten Angelo Mariani, ebenfalls für dieses Debüt ausgewählt.
Die Zeitschrift Movimento schrieb damals: „Gestern Abend öffneten sich die Pforten des Carlo Felice für die angekündigte Aufführung der neuen Partitur von Franco Faccio, den Amleto. Groß waren die allgemeinen Erwartungen, da Zweifel laut geworden waren in Bezug auf das neue Genre, an dem sich der junge Maestro versucht hatte. Das Publikum kam in Massen und in der Haltung, dessen, der zu einem wohl bedachten Urteil, sagen wir es offen, mit Strenge bereit war. Aber die Bereitschaft zum Zweifel flaute schnell ab, und nach genauer Prüfung fiel die Entscheidung; man applaudierte und das ganz spontan, aus Überzeugung und mit Enthusiasmus. Ebenso las an es in der Gazzetta di Genova: „Der Oper wurde allgemein nach dem ersten Akt Beifall gespendet, nach dem Duett Ofelia und Amleto, am Ende des zweiten Akts, nach der Canzone der Ofelia im dritten Akt und nach dem Tauermarsch im vierten Akt. Der junge Maestro wurde mehrmals auf die Bühne gerufen.“
Das eindeutige Talent von Faccio wurde also anerkannt. Nicht derselben Meinung war Giuseppe Verdi, nach dessen Auffassung niemand etwas hatte verstehen können bei all dem „Krach“. Die sechs Jahre, die zwischen Genua und Mailand verstrichen, waren voller Abenteuer und Erfahrungen, vor allem die Teilnahme am Dritten Unabhängigkeitskrieg im Jahre 1866, der beide (Faccio und Boito) betraf, um nicht vom Fiasko des Mefistofele zu sprechen, des es 1868 an der Scala gab. Die Kunst der „Liederlichkeit“ bedurfte also einer schönen Auffrischung, so sehr, dass man 1870 von einer möglichen Wiederaufführung des Amleto in Florenz sprach. Man entschied sich jedoch für Mailand, die Scala und die Saison 1870/71. Tiberini wurde wieder engagiert für dieselbe Rolle, aber auch der Rest der Besetzung war vorzüglich, mit Virginia Pozzi-Branzanti als Ofelia und dem Dirigenten Eugenio Terziani als Dirigenten. Leider erkrankte Tiberini, und das Debüt an der Scala wurde um zwei Wochen verschoben. Aber das reichte nicht. Der Tenor aus den Marken war vollkommen ohne Stimme und desorientiert. Sein Auftritt war ein komplettes Unglück, viele Noten brachte er überhaupt nicht heraus. Faccio zeigte sich ruhig und gelassen, aber in Wirklichkeit hatte sich Nervosität seiner bemächtigt. Es gab zwar einigen Applaus, aber alles in allem sprach man sofort von einem Fiasko. Es ist wirklich schade, dass man Amleto nicht mehr zu Faccios Lebzeiten aufgeführt hat (er starb fünfzigjährig im Jahre 1891, nachdem er in Irrsinn verfallen war). Eigentlich handelte es sich, wie der Verleger Tito Riccordi bemerkte, um einen Amleto aufgeführt ohne Hamlet, vielleicht war es auch Schicksal, dass man diese Tragödie so schnell vergaß. Aber die große Leidenschaft, die Antonio Smareglia, einer der wichtigsten Schüler von Faccio, für die Partitur hegte, ist doch zu erwähnen, für eine Musik und eine Bearbeitung des Stoffes, die in dieser Epoche für zu ehrgeizig und wenig respektvoll gegenüber Shakespeare gehalten wurden. Aber man kann auch von einem wertvollen und konkreten Zeugnis sprechen, das die „Liederlichkeit“ im 19. Jahrhundert zu schaffen versuchte. (Übersetzung Ingrid Wanja)
Und nun Anthony Barrese himself: To begin with – the usual question: what brought you to this opera and to the composer? I myself am and always was fascinated by these compositori minori in the overwhelming shadow of Verdi – like Apolloni or of course Gomes, Montèro, Carrer. So what made you aware of this particular one? Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare play, and has been since my early teen years. When I started exploring the world of opera, I was shocked to discover that there was no credible (in my opinion) operatic treatment of the subject. And then I heard that Boito had written a Hamlet libretto, and that it was not only his first Shakespeare libretto, but his first libretto ever. So I came to the opera because of the libretto, and then discovered the music later, but it was all because of my love of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Verdi is the cornerstone of this period – what sets Faccio apart from Verdi? How individual is his music as against Verdi? Did he know Rossini (for sure/G. Tell and all that as Verdi did)? How much is he indebted to Donizetti and the Belcanto-composers? I am listening to your musical examples of Amleto on your website – his great aria and scene right now – Hamlet as a tenor seems so weird after Thomas and all that. It makes him younger for sure, maybe less weighty and more traditional?
Faccio’s music is very much like Verdi’s in many ways, but to the extent that he is unique, he is definitely more concerned with orchestral color. For example, there are beautiful instances of high string writing and harmonics (very much like the opening of Lohengrin) in the 3rd Act prelude before Ofelia’s mad scene. Also, he uses very subtle techniques like cymbal crashes ppp, an effect that you do not see much of before verismo. Undoubtedly Faccio knew Rossini and Donizetti’s music. While traces of Rossini are hard to find, Donizetti’s presence is made clear in Ofelia’s mad scene, in which she is accompanied by a flute obbligato (flashes of Lucia di Lammermoor).
Casting Hamlet as a tenor makes more sense to me in the Italian tradition, especially middle and late Verdi, where the hero is a tenor, and the evil presence is a lower, darker voice. In fact all of the voice types are perfectly cast. Ofelia is a lyric soprano, Geltrude is somewhere between a soprano and a mezzo soprano, giving her a darker, more matronly quality. And the ghost is a basso profundo, which gives his character more dramatic and musical weight.
Some remarks about Faccio? His position in Verdis life, conductor,of Aida and all that. Is there a good book on him? Info is difficult I find. There are two books about Faccio, both by Raffaello de Rensis, one is called Franco Faccio e Verdi, the other one is called L’Amleto di Franco Faccio. Both books have a lot of the same material. In his youth, along with Boito, Faccio was an important figure in the Scapigliatura movement of young composers, writers, artists, etc. who wanted to radicalize Italian art, and break it free of its traditional chains.
There are very few works of Scapigliatura art that had any influence. A lot of it was polemics and manifestos. In fact Amleto was seen as the best attempt at such an example, especially after Boito’s Mefistofele was such a disaster at its premiere. Despite their antagonistic stance towards Verdi, both Faccio and Boito obviously later became great admirers and champions of Verdi’s music. In fact, the very same year that Amleto was a disaster at La Scala, Faccio led the Italian premiere of Aida at La Scala. He went on to conduct the premiere of Otello (in addition to many other important Italian works), and became what is, in effect, the first Music Director of La Scala, or maestro scaligero.
1871 is a late date for Italian composers in the conventional style, the Verists are on the threshold – I hear in the music lots of the contemporary idiom of Gomes (Fosca namely): Was this so or how much do these composers differ from each other? Verdi took a different turn I think – but this leads to Catalani and Mascagni, no? I think there are definite shades of verismo in the music. Especially for Amleto’s music. There were many changes between the 1865 premiere and the 1871 La Scala production. Most noticeably in Amleto’s „to be or not to be“ aria, which, in the original version was much more declamatory, throughout. Like an extended recitative. In fact, some of the criticism of the original version was that there was „too little melody“ and „too much recitative.“ A criticism that Faccio took to heart when revising it. But even in a major revision, such as Ofelia’s mad scene, he kept the declamatory quality in the vocal writing, but expanded the melodic writing in the orchestra.
He was a brilliant orchestrator, and clearly used the orchestra to paint a mood. For example, in Act 1, scene 2 atop the castle of Elsinore, before we see Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus, we hear 4 solo celli (shadows of Guillaume Tell, and foreshadows of Otello act 1 love duet, and Tosca Act III section before „e lucevan le stelle“) depict a somber, barren landscape. Faccio also uses the orchestra to great effect in the Act 4 Marcia Funebre which gives the drama some breathing room between the comedy of the gravediggers and the confrontation between Laertes and Hamlet. It is a fascinating piece that can stand alone, but that also works within the context of the drama.
Also, Hamlet’s vocal line is much more in line with later verismo composers. It’s not a particularly high role (Bb being the highest note he has), and there is a paucity of held high notes. This is not to say that the vocal line isn’t expressive, because it is, in very key points. But Faccio is careful to rein in the vocal line, and have it explode only at moments of maximum musical and dramatic importance.
Any info about the opera Amleto? Was it given a lot of times? When and why did it stop to be played? Amleto premiered in 1865 in Genova’s Teatro Carlo Felice. From all accounts it was a success, both with the public and with the critics. Soon after the premiere, Boito and Faccio joined Garibaldi’s army and fought for Italian unification. Their travels brought them into closer contact with the music of Beethoven and Wagner (during that time, Wagner was only known in Italy through his writings or piano vocal scores. The first Wagner opera heard in Italy, Lohengrin, wasn’t until 1871). This contributed to the many revisions that Faccio made. After Boito’s disastrous Mefistofele premiere (La Scala 1868), Faccio and his fellow artists knew that they needed a success, so Amleto was scheduled to have another production at La Scala in 1871.
Preparations went along smoothly until the last week, when the person singing Amleto (Tiberini) got sick, and they had to postpone the premiere for a couple weeks. Tiberini got better, and then right before the opening he got sick again. The La Scala Theater Commission judged Tiberini well enough to sing, and he went on. What happened next was a disaster. Tiberini, still very ill, could not sing the part. He marked the vocal line, transposed sections of it down an octave, and just stopped singing altogether in other sections. As Giulio Ricordi said „Hamlet was performed without a Hamlet.“ It was a disastrous night, and Faccio never let the piece be performed again. In fact it hasn’t been performed since that night at La Scala, February 12, 1871.
The only reason that it has not been performed since is that no material existed except for the composer’s autograph manuscript. Contrary to standard practice, a full piano vocal score of the work was never made by Ricordi, so when I came across the materials, I literally had to transcribe it, note for note, from the autograph manuscript of the full score. After transcribing the full score, I began the process of making a piano vocal score, so I could then hear more immediately what the music sounded like.
So I think the simplest reason as to why it hasn’t been performed since 1871 is 1) Faccio never let it be played again, and 2) after his death there was no material (piano vocal score, copies of the full score, orchestral parts, etc.) except for the composer’s autograph manuscript, which is not intended for performance purposes.
Some remarks about the opera. Structure, lay-out of voices and characters, musical remarks. You as a composer yourself (and of Italian roots): where is the appeal to you? The structure of the work very closely resembles Shakespeare, as do the characters. Many minor characters are omitted (Osric, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, etc.) but many of the small characters are retained (player king and queen, Lucianus, Gravediggers, etc.) As I said above, the voices are very typical of 19th century Italian opera of the time period. The hero (or anti-hero) Amleto is sung by a tenor. The sweet, innocent Ofelia – soprano. The older and more wise Geltrude sung by a richer, darker soprano (a „mezzo-soprano“ in the libretto). The evil king Claudio, a high Verdi baritone, and the Spettro, a basso rofundo. Even the smaller roles make sense: both the Gravedigger and Polonio sung by comic basses, and Hamlet’s friends Orazio and Marcello sung by comprimario basses, and Laertes sung by a comprimario tenor.
My training as a composer helped me in incalculable ways when preparing this material. For example, many pages of the autograph manuscript were faded. But I found that if I could figure out the bass and the vocal line, the rest was relatively easy if you followed the logic of tonal harmony. If I couldn’t read the viola line to see if a note was C or Bb, but I knew that the bass was Ab, and the tenor was singing Eb, most likely, the viola part was C, because it was the third of the chord. Things like this became very useful on almost every page. The appeal of resurrecting an Italian opera during one of the greatest periods of music making in Italy, and the prospect of it possibly becoming part of the standard repertoire one day is very exciting.
Some remarks about the edition, realization, project? I first became aware of an Italian Hamlet opera with a Boito libretto during my first season on the music staff of Sarasota Opera in the winter/spring of 2002. In 2003 I got in touch Gabriel Dotto, a musicologist living in Milan who had formerly worked with the Italian publishing house Ricordi. I had heard that many of the archives were destroyed during the war, and I wasn’t sure whether Ricordi would still have the autograph from Amleto. He replied: “As luck (and some rather heroic effort on the part of Ricordi management sixty years ago) would have it, no autographs of the historical archive were destroyed in the war, as the collection was secretly taken to a safe location.” (Though the “production copies” of scores, hire libraries, etc. were lost during the bombings).
Since Ricordi was at that time moving into a new home at the Biblioteca Brera in the heart of Milan, he sent my letter off to Maria Pia Ferraris, the head archivist of the newly opened Ricordi Archives. It turned out that Ricordi did have a microfilm of the autograph, and when it arrived I began the painstaking task of transcribing the manuscript. At the same time, my wife found a copy (again a microfilm) of Boito’s libretto at the Performing Arts Library in New York. The libretto was especially important since Faccio’s handwriting was difficult to decipher, and the quality of the autograph manuscript was poor. Acclaimed American musicologist and Verdi expert Phillip Gossett was incredibly generous in helping me figure out the handwriting idiosyncrasies in the score
As remarked above, the creation of the addition was a multi-year project that is still going on. After transcribing the autograph manuscript, note for note (a process which took well over a year) onto staff paper, I input the entire full score into a music engraving program. After that I made a transcription of a piano vocal score for easier use, and then input the entire piano vocal score into a music engraving program. After that, I spent years making corrections, finding mistakes, comparing the 2 different libretti (1865, 1871), and generally revising the score. When it was decided that we would produce the work at Opera Southwest, I began making orchestra parts. The process of making orchestra parts shed light on many more mistakes in the orchestra score, and playing through the piece at the piano revealed mistakes in piano vocal score.
As far as realizing the piece, we did the Act 3 trio at Sarasota Opera in a concert with their Apprentice Artists in 2004 (with piano accompaniment), and in 2007 I conducted Ofelia’s Funeral March on a concert with the Dallas Opera Orchestra. Other than that I know of no other public performances in the United States of any of this music. Our project in October/November of 2014 at Opera Southwest is to give the American Premiere of the entire opera. Before we begin rehearsals in Albuquerque, we are going to do a preview concert of the whole opera with the Baltimore Concert Opera in Baltimore Maryland. These performances will be with piano accompaniment, no staging, no costumes, no sets, etc. Just the singing and piano. Then at Opera Southwest we will do the complete opera with orchestra, sets, costumes, lights, make up, staging, etc.
A few words about the composer: Franco Faccio (March 8, 1840 July 21, 1891) was an Italian composer and conductor. Born in Verona, Faccio became known as a conductor of Verdi’s music. He studied music in Milan and after finishing his studies began his career as a composer, writing I profughi Fiamminghi (Milan, 1863) and Amleto (Genoa, 1865), the latter being one of the many operas based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Both operas failed to achieve success either among the critics or the general public. However the Marcia Funebre composed for the Amleto is considered as an important example of Faccio’s lyricism. Its popularity is made evident by its transcriptions for wind band in late 19th century. One can still listen to this part of the opera in Corfu during Easter, where the band of Philarmonic Society of Corfu performs it during the epitaph litany of St. Spyridon in the morning of Holy Saturday. In 1867 Faccio became director of the Milan Conservatory and in 1872 he was nominated director of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. Faccio conducted the first performance of Verdi’s Otello (1887), which starred his long-time lover Romilda Pantaleoni as Desdemona, Francesco Tamagno as Otello and Victor Maurel as Iago. He also conducted Otello in its London premiere with Tamagno repeating his triumph as the Moor. He had previously conducted the first Italian performance of Aida (1872) and the premiere of the revised version of Simon Boccanegra (1881). Faccio died in Monza at the young age of 51.
Links: http://anthonybarrese.com/biography/ http://anthonybarrese.com/projects/amleto-project/excerpts/ Foto oben: Benjamin West, Hamlet, 1792 Wikipedia