As I begin finalizing plans for my Italian trip, I'm very excited to say that I just obtained a ticket for a performance of the opera Don Pasquale at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
Don Pasquale, a popular comic opera, was originally set in Rome in the 1840s. Recently, some North American opera companies have put their own interesting spin on the opera, which tells of the misadventures of a 70-year-old bachelor who tries to control his nephew’s romantic life while finding a suitable bride for himself.
San Diego Opera, in a move copied by several other companies, moved the location of the story to the American Southwest of the 1880s (shown above.) Interesting concept -- however, given the venue next month in a historic Italian opera house, I'll be just as happy to see Gaetano Donizetti's original Italian setting over, say, the Wild West and something like Annie Get Your Opera!
My helpful hotel in Bologna, the Hotel Orologio, closed the deal for me and it seems I was lucky to even get a ticket to this opera. I had asked the hotel to book my ticket in the hope that staff there might get a good price; however, it seems that my 71-euro seat is the best that they could find for the June 12th performance. Clearly, this is going to be a very hot event -- I could find nothing myself online, besides very cheap seats that I suspected wouldn't be worthwhile. So, I'll cough up the cash and appreciate my chance to see opera in a wonderful setting.
I'm an opera fan, although I don't get to see nearly enough. And opera in Italy seems to be extra special. In January 2008, I was thrilled to see Puccini's Tosca -- which is set in Rome -- performed on (roughly) the anniversary of its prima in 1900 at Rome's Teatro Constanzi. (BTW, I recently read about a performance that inadvertently involving a bouncing Tosca: Tosca, as usual, ends the opera with her fatal jump from the walls of Castel Sant'Angelo. But the stage workers had improved her security by replacing the mattress with a trampoline, so that Tosca appeared 2 or 3 times from behind the wall.....)
Anyway, I always keep an eye out for opera opportunities when I visit Italy, and I'm sure this will be fantastic. I love to see the inside of great European opera houses, and the whole atmosphere around the event is almost as much fun as the production itself! This event should be particularly interesting as Bologna's opera house is reportedly one of Italy's oldest surviving theatres (second only to Naples' Teatro San Carlo.) Bologna's Comunale was inaugurated in 1763 and has been described as a stunning example of 18th century baroque architecture. Further, it's not only one of Italy's oldest opera houses, but apparently the Comunale is also one of the most original, never having needed more than minor restorations.
I haven't a clue how good (or bad) my seat will be -- the hotel says it is on "the platea" which I believe is basically the floor directly in front of the stage. The opera itself should also be very good. The three-act opera was written by Donizetti at the time the Italian had just been appointed music director and composer for the imperial court of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. It follows the tradition of opera buffa, harkening back to the stock characters of the commedia dell'arte.