is an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...
in four acts and an epilogue
An epilogue, epilog or afterword is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature or drama, usually used to bring closure to the work...
by Alberto Franchetti
Alberto Franchetti was an Italian opera composer.-Biography:Alberto Franchetti was born in Turin, a Jewish nobleman of independent means. He studied first in Venice, then in Dresden under Felix Draeseke, and finally at the Munich Conservatory under Josef Rheinberger. His first major success...
to an Italian
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...
by Luigi Illica
Luigi Illica was an Italian librettist who wrote for Giacomo Puccini , Alfredo Catalani, Umberto Giordano, Baron Alberto Franchetti and other important Italian composers. His most famous opera librettos are those for La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Andrea Chénier.Illica was born at...
. It was written in 1892 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...
' arrival in America.
Commissioned by the city of Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....
, Columbus' birth place, the opera deals with the voyage of discovery, its opposition by the Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
authorities, Columbus' encouragement by Queen Isabella
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...
, and finally, after his difficulties and triumph, his anguish when he learns of her death.
An essentially melodic opera written in the verismo
Verismo was an Italian literary movement which peaked between approximately 1875 and the early 1900s....
style, it is harmonically rich, with obvious references to the work of Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...
. The Act 2 monologue contains a Rhine-like motif; after cries of Terra! Terra!
the orchestra replies with Tristan
Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting...
-like ecstasy, and then a rainbow bridge-like triumph. Its anti-church elements have been noted, particularly in the opera's earlier versions: it is the clerics who oppose the voyage initially, and who violently attempt to evangelise the South American natives.
The opera premiered at Genoa's Teatro Carlo Felice
The Teatro Carlo Felice is the principal opera house of Genoa, Italy, used for performances of opera, ballet, orchestral music, and recitals. It is located on the Piazza De Ferrari....
on October 6, 1892 conducted by Luigi Mancinelli with sets designed by Ugo Gheduzzi and costumes by Adolf Hohenstein. The same year, it was performed in a revised version at La Scala, Milan
La Scala , is a world renowned opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the New Royal-Ducal Theatre at La Scala...
. It had a number of performances throughout Italy, many of them conducted by Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. One of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, he was renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory...
, and in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...
. The opera's North American premiere was presented by the Philadelphia-Chicago Grand Opera Company at the Philadelphia Metropolitan Opera House
The Metropolitan Opera House is a historic opera house located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 858 North Broad Street. Built over the course of just a few months in 1908, it was the ninth opera house built by impresario Oscar Hammerstein I. It was initially the home of Hammerstein's Philadelphia...
on November 20, 1913, with Titta Ruffo
Titta Ruffo , born as Ruffo Titta Cafiero, was an Italian opera star who had a major international singing career. Known as the "Voce del leone" , he was greatly admired, even by rival baritones, such as Giuseppe De Luca, who said of Ruffo: "His was not a voice, it was a miracle" Titta Ruffo (9...
in the title role, Rosa Raisa
Rosa Raisa was a Polish-born, Italian-trained, dramatic operatic soprano. In 1926 she created the role of Turandot at La Scala, Milan.-Career:...
as Queen Isabella of Spain, Amedeo Bassi as Don Fernan Guevara, and Gustave Huberdeau
Gustave Huberdeau was a French operatic bass-baritone who had a prolific career in Europe and the United States during the first quarter of the twentieth century...
as Don Roldana Ximenes.
Despite initial stage success, a massive cut of the first version, of some 100 pages of orchestral score, led to the published version; a set of adventures in America in acts 3 and 4 having been considered too long. The final version of 1923 contained three acts, omitting the American content altogether, although containing much of its music. One of Luigi Illica's first librettos, it had a difficult gestation due to difficulties with the composer. Illica withdrew his name from the project after the first performance.
6 October 1892
(Conductor: Luigi Mancinelli)
|Cristoforo Colombo, Christopher Columbus
Baritone is a type of male singing voice that lies between the bass and tenor voices. It is the most common male voice. Originally from the Greek , meaning deep sounding, music for this voice is typically written in the range from the second F below middle C to the F above middle C Baritone (or...
| Giuseppe Kaschmann
|Isabella de Aragona, Queen Isabella I of Spain
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...
| Elvira Colonnese
|Don Fernando Guevara, Captain of the Royal Guards
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...
| Edoardo Garbin
|Don Rolando Ximenes, a Spanish knight
A bass is a type of male singing voice and possesses the lowest vocal range of all voice types. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, a bass is typically classified as having a range extending from around the second E below middle C to the E above middle C...
| Francesco Navarini
|Matheos, foreman of the ship's crew
|| Giovanni Paroli
|Anacona, an Indian queen
A mezzo-soprano is a type of classical female singing voice whose range lies between the soprano and the contralto singing voices, usually extending from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above...
| Giulia Novelli
Giulia Novelli was an Italian operatic mezzo-soprano. She was married to the famous Spanish dramatic tenor Francisco Viñas ....
|Iguamota, her daughter
|| Elvira Colonnese
|Bobita, the old chieftain
|| Vittorio Cesarotto
his daughter >
|| Carolina Mussini
|Bobadilla, false messenger of the King of Spain
|| Raffaele Terzi
- Titta Ruffo Edition Two arias from Act 2 of the opera Aman lassu le stelle (Strange loves have the stars on high) and Dunque ho sognato? (Is it a dream?) (Preiser Records 89303)
- Cristoforo Colombo Renato Bruson (baritone); Roberto Scandiuzzi (bass); Rosella Ragatzu (soprano); Gisella Pasino (mezzo-soprano); Marco Berti (tenor); Hungarian Radio Chorus, Budapest, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Marcello Viotti
Marcello Viotti was a Swiss classical music conductor, best known for opera.Viotti was born in Vallorbe, in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, to Italian parents. He studied cello, piano and singing at the Conservatory of Lausanne. Wolfgang Sawallisch was a mentor to Viotti and encouraged...
. (Koch Schwann 367392)