Le Villi - Opera by Puccini
Last Thursday I went to the BOZAR to see Le Villi. It is described as an “Opera-ballo in due atti”. Well it really was “Opera in un atto senza ballo”. It is the first opera composed by Giacomo Puccini, written between 1883 and 1890. A great admirer of Wagner, he tried to blend Italian “bel canto” with German romantic symphonic grandeur.
This short opera is full of everything: arias for soprano and tenor, dances, lovely chorus and lots of good music. The best aria was “Se come voi piccina io fossi” for the very good soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domas. She sang with all her hart and a good voice and it is a lovely aria.
The story is known to ballet lovers as Giselle. In the Black Forest after an engagement feast with Roberto, Anna sings her love and foreboding of ill and misfortune. Roberto has to cross the forest to go and collect an inheritance in Mayence and come back to marry her. In fact, Roberto seduced by a mermaid, does not come back and Anna dies of despair.
Abandoned by the mermaid, Roberto comes back the village and hears Anna’s voice reminding him her love. He is than dragged in a deadly dance by the “Villi”, the ghosts of abandoned maidens and he dies.
I love fairy tales. When the music and voices take you like this, it is really an unforgettable experience.
The production at the BOZAR was “concertante”. That means no costume, scene or ballet. The singers stand in the front, the orchestra sits in the middle and the chorus is at the back. It is an imposing sight. You have about 70/80 performers on the stage all following the orchestra director. In the moments where they all go together you really feel this enormous sound wave hitting you.