Postcards from Italy

Italy’s 2015-2016 Opera Season

Each winter in Italy, the new opera season kicks off in some of the world’s most sumptuous historic theaters in cities from north to south. As professional singers and opera fans, we are always curious to see what trends and news come with each year’s season. This year Brian has noticed a few that stand out:

  • Verismo – the style of opera produced in Italy at the end of the 19th century through the 1920’s and one of our favorite genres – is back!
  • Rarities are showing up on a number of theater programs this year
  • La Fenice remains a good venue to see the classics; La Traviata seems to be getting the most play this year
Opera Glasses

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

If you are interesting in seeing an opera while traveling in Italy this winter, here are some notes regarding the most important theaters:

Teatro di San Carlo – Naples

Highlights: Naples’ landmark opera theater is presenting La Vedova Allegra (The Merry Widow) over the Christmas and New Year’s season – a perfectly bubbly operetta for the holidays. Later in the winter, Mariella Devia will be singing Norma in February.
Verismo: To see an example of this return, reserve seats for Giordano’s Fedora in May or Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur in October.
Classics: Madama ButterflyAida, and Le Nozze di Figaro

Teatro La Fenice – Venice


(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)Highlights: Mariella Devia will sing Norma in this world famous theater in September if you miss her in Naples in February. Also, the rarely performed Stiffelio by Verdi is programmed for January and Donizetti’s La Favorite (French version) in May.
Verismo: La Fenice’s nod to the Verismo trend is Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz in late May/early June.
ClassicsMadama Butterfly in March, La Traviata in April, Il Barbiere di Siviglia in May

Teatro La Scala – Milan


(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)Highlights: Milan’s chic opera house where the glitterati gather on opening nights, and international opera fans every other evening of the season, opens with a Verdi rarity, Giovanna D’Arco, in December. After the perennially popular Rigoletto, the program continues featuring Placido Domingo in another Verdi rarity, I Due Foscari. This performance is another example of Domingo’s exploration of the baritone repertoire as his career continues well into his 70’s. Despite the mixed critical reception he receives for hanging on until the bitter end, his star power should attract a large crowd. Also, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess will be performed in a semi-staged concert version in November. American bass Morris Robinson will sing Porgy in an edition carefully researched and edited by Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt. This should be a very interesting evening for opera fans.
Verismo: Even the venerable La Scala has joined the Verismo revival, with Giordano’s La Cena delle Beffe scheduled for May. This work from 1924 is rarely performed and is part of La Scala’s effort to reintroduce some of the masterworks of the Verismo movement. In addition, Puccini’s “spaghetti western”, Fanciulla del West, takes the stage in May.
Classics: Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in September and Le Nozze di Figaro in October

Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma – Roma


(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)Highlights: Rome’s cavernous opera house is showing two rarities this season: Donizetti’s Linda di Chamonix in late June and a new production of Hector Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini – conducted by Roberto Abbado – in March.
Verismo: Rome’s opera theater has included complete performances of Puccini’s Il Trittico (Il TabarroSuor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi) in April.
Classics:La Traviata in May

Travel Specialists

Maria Landers

Brian Dore