The amorous plots, the poignant passions, the dramatic tension and the final revenge. It was the great tradition of Italian opera that inaugurated the 98th Opera Festival of the Arena di Verona, in the powerful realist diptych Cavalleria rusticana – Pagliacci, directed by maestro Marco Armiliato. A courageous choice and for this reason it proved to be a winning one where direction, costumes, lights – entirely signed by the Arena art sector – were perfectly intertwined with the digital scenographies created in collaboration with D-wok in the 400sqm of led walls that framed the show. Some choices were really special, like the costumes of ‘Cavalleria rusticana’, all black or in any case dark, one above all that of Santuzza, in stark contrast to Lola, dressed in silver. The black and white scenery that animated Pietro Mascagni’s work is also particular, contrasted with the colorful ‘Pagliacci’ by Ruggero Leoncavallo, a tribute to Federico Fellini’s cinema, starting with Tonio who appears on stage dressed as the director in the Prologue. Romagna: the unmistakable red scarf around the neck and the wide-brimmed hat on the head, while the posters of the films of the master scroll on the ledwall. On stage, off to all the characters who came out of Fellini’s imagination, from the white Sheikh to Juliet of the spirits, up to the paparazzo, Marcello and Anita Ekberg. The rules imposed by Covid did not spoil the magic of the evening, such as the masks worn on stage by the extras and the distance present both in the audience and between the choir, positioned on the steps. The images of the two shows have remained intact in their beauty. In Cavalleria rusticana, with the patronage of the Ministry of Culture, during the first notes and the ‘Inneggiamo’ choir, the black and white images of the landscapes of the Valle dei Templi Archaeological and Landscape Park in Agrigento paraded, together with reproductions of frescoes and drawings historians from the Vatican Museums and the collections of the Vatican Apostolic Library. To create the circus and surreal world of Leoncavallo’s work, however, the creatives of the Arena Foundation turned to Fellini’s imagination, in particular to the film ‘La Strada’ , winking at his entire cinematic universe. Fundamental are the images of the Rimini filmmaker, whose centenary has just occurred, thanks to the collaboration of the National Cinema Museum of Turin and the Fellini Museum Rimini, which will be inaugurated in August. Applause for all the protagonists: from the orchestra, to the maestro Armiliato, to the choir directed by Vito Lombardi, up to the international cast of the highest level: Sonia Ganassi, who made her debut in a stage role in the Arena as Santuzza, alongside the Turkish tenor Murat Karahan (Turiddu) and at Amartuvshin Enkhbat’s Alfio (engaged in a double debut on the same evening, also as Tonio in Pagliacci). And again Agostina Smimmero (Lucia) and Clarissa Leonardi (Lola). Yusif Eyvazov in Canio / Pagliaccio and Marina Rebeka as Nedda / Colombina, another spearhead of the cast, together with Silvio by Mario Cassi, Peppe / Arlecchino by Riccardo Rados, Max René Cosotti and Dario Giorgelè in highly applauded Pagliacci. (by Federica Mochi)
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