Es ist schon erstaunlich: mehr als hundert Jahre schlummerte Franco Faccio Oper Amleto von 1865 in den Archiven des Musikverlages Ricordi, dann grub der amerikanische Dirigent und Musikwissenschaftler Anthony Barrese die Noten aus und erstellte unter großen Mühen eine Aufführungs-Partitur, die er 2014 in Albuquerque zur Aufführung (und einer Wiederholung 2015, wir berichteten in operalounge.de über beides nebst einem Interview mit Anthony Barrese) vorstellte. Und nun gibt es in diesem Jahr, 2016, gleich zwei Neuproduktionen der Oper: eine im Sommer in Bregenz (am 20. Juli übertragen in Ö1) und eine kürzlich (am 13. Mai 2016) an der Delaware Opera, über die nachstehend John Jernigan berichtet – die Wege der Vorsehung sind wirklich wunderbar. Franco Faccio erhält nun in unserem Jahrhundert die verdiente Ehrung – und hoffentlich nicht die letzte, dafür ist die Oper zu spannend. G. H.
Amleto: In 2013, Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, offered the modern world premiere of Franco Faccio’s 1865 opera Amleto, a work which had utterly failed after one night in a revised version at Milan’s La Scala in 1871, and then was heard no more. The Albuquerque premiere was a major event, which gained world-wide notice for the small company and for Maestro Anthony Barrese, who found the score and lovingly transcribed it over a period of many years to create a performing edition. Now Amleto has had a second outing in a new production with new singers at Opera Delaware in Wilmington as part of a mini-festival celebrating the Shakespeare anniversary year (he died just over 400 years ago, in April, 1616). The Festival also offered Verdi’s Falstaff and Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2. There was also a concert of songs and arias from Shakespearean operas and poems. As for Amleto, its triumphal resurrection continues in July with its first European performances since 1871, at the renowned summer festival in Bregenz, Austria.
At the time of the Albuquerque performances, I wrote a long (too long!) essay about this unknown opera and its importance, especially for Verdi lovers, and I won’t repeat all of that here. (…) Opera Delaware’s new production was spare on scenery, but chocked full of great acting and singing–a new moving experience which ratified the worth of the opera itself and the sneaking belief that the most interesting things in opera are happening on the stages of small, feisty companies and not on the vast stages of the country’s traditional behemoths of opera. Set Designer Peter Tupitza gave us a metal scaffold on several levels as a skeleton set which represented interiors and exteriors of Elsinore Castle, and there were discreet projections by Driscoll Otto which enhanced the mood. There were period medieval costumes designed Howard Tsvi Kaplan, and the lighting, also by Otto, did the rest. Stage Director E. Loren Meeker was great in moving the many characters and the chorus, and keeping the action flowing; there was also a Fight Choreographer (Lewis Shaw) for the duel to the death between Laertes and Hamlet.
The young cast was just superb in both acting a singing; the words, so important for the scapigliati, were clear and full of meaning too. Joshua Kohl was wonderful in the arduous title role; young and athletic, he looked like Hamlet should, handsome and baleful, and he sang with ardor and commitment. He and Matthew Vickers as Laertes were a forceful pair, and Vickers acted the hothead vigorously. Much of the most beautiful music in the opera falls to Ophelia, especially her entrance at the beginning („Doubt that the stars are fire,“ to use Shakespeare’s words borrowed by Boito) and her shattering mad scene. As in Albuquerque, this scene, here in Sarah Asmar’s spectacular performance, was a moving highlight of the score. The dedicated opera fan might detect wisps of Meyerbeer or Ponchielli there, and my neighbor heard a bit of Tristan, but it is a unique scene, one of the greatest in mid-late nineteenth century Italian opera. I hear the sad ear-worm melody as I write.
But then every member of the cast was strong, even the Grave digger (Harold Wilson, who doubled as Polonius). Deep mezzo Lara Tillotson as Geltrude was wonderful in her duet with Amleto and her La gioconda-esque aria, full of guilt and foreboding. The evil King Claudio was a bearded, bald Timothy Mix (he is to sing Enrico in Opera Colorado’s upcoming Lucia). I loved his work in the „prayer“ scene, and his acting in the „mousetrap“ play within the play which forms the second act finale. Even the minor roles of Horatio and Marcellus (Justin Hopkins and José Sacin) were well sung and acted. There was a large chorus (the opera is full of big ensemble scenes) led by Jeffrey Miller and even four dancers for the court scenes. Maestro Barrese led the proceedings skillfully and made it all exciting and moving, the work of a lover proudly showing off his beloved. As in Albuquerque, that beloved once again provided a worthy and moving experience that brought the audience to its feet with the sense of wonder that it was discovering something very old that was very new and powerful. The woman sitting behind me kept murmuring to her companion, „How beautiful!“ as if surprised that a work that has been lost so long could offer so much. I doubt that we have seen or heard the last of Amleto (Foto oben:Faccios „Amleto“ an der Delaware Opera/ Szene/ Photo: Courtesy of Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography/ Delaware Opera). John Jernigan