|Amelia al ballo|
Amelia Goes to the Ball
|Opera buffa by Gian Carlo Menotti|
The composer in 1944
April 1, 1937 (in English)
Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia
Amelia al ballo (Amelia Goes to the Ball) is a one-act opera buffa by Gian Carlo Menotti, who set his own Italian libretto. Composed during 1936 when Menotti was in his mid-twenties, it was the composer's first mature opera and first critical success. The opera recounts a series of farcical events as a young Italian socialite overcomes obstacles to her attendance at the first ball of the season.
Menotti secured a premiere for the work in Philadelphia. This required, however, a translation into English of the original libretto. George Mead prepared the translation and Menotti made minor revisions to the music to fit the new English words. Staged by the Curtis Institute of Music, Amelia Goes to the Ball premiered on 1 April 1937 at the Philadelphia Academy of Music under the direction of Austrian composer, librettist, and stage director Ernst Lert, with set and costume designs by Tony Award-winning designer Donald Oenslager.
The opera was presented in a double bill with the US premiere of Darius Milhaud's Le pauvre matelot .Both operas were conducted by Fritz Reiner. Sylvan Levin served as chorus master, and a young Boris Goldovsky worked as assistant conductor. The double bill played later that month in Baltimore at the Lyric Theatre and at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City, with Florence Kirk taking over the title role at the latter theatre. On 2 May 1937 excerpts from the Menotti opera, performed by the original cast with Levin conducting, were broadcast by CBS Radio as part of National Music Week in the United States.
Still in its English guise, Amelia Goes to the Ball had its Metropolitan Opera premiere on 3 March 1938 with Muriel Dickson as Amelia, John Brownlee as her husband, and Mario Chamlee as her lover, under the baton of Ettore Panizza. The opera received a total of seven performances at the Met that season, four times in a double bill with Strauss' Elektra (including the opening night), twice paired with Strauss' Salome , and once with Rimsky-Korsakov's Le coq d'or .
The world premiere of the original Amelia al ballo took place, fittingly, in Italy: on 4 April 1938 in the opera house of the Sanremo Municipal Casino.
Amelia's success led to a commission from NBC for an opera specifically composed for radio: The Old Maid and the Thief of 1939.During the 1950s Amelia al ballo had a surge in popularity in Italy, with premieres at Teatro Comunale di Bologna (7 December 1951), Teatro Regio in Parma (18 January 1952), Teatro alla Scala in Milan (24 March 1954), Teatro Regio in Turin (8 May 1954), and Teatro dell'Opera di Roma (29 December 1956), among others. The Belgian premiere was given at La Monnaie on 11 March 1955, the French premiere in Metz on 9 December 1967.
The opera had several revivals in 1987 when Menotti turned 75. Menotti himself directed a production in the original Italian at the Juilliard School Opera Center in New Yorkand a special performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of the work's premiere at the Philadelphia Academy of Music by The Curtis Institute. The cast, drawn from Curtis, was handpicked by Menotti and included baritone Timothy Jon Sarris as Amelia's husband, Maria Fortuna as Amelia and tenor Perry Brisbane as her lover.
Amelia al ballo is still periodically performed, with productions in the 2008/2009 seasons in Vichy, Buenos Aires, and São Paulo, as well as a 2010 double bill with Menotti's The Telephone in Tours, using the 2006 co-production by Lausanne Opera and the Opéra Comique.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 1 April 1937 |
(Conductor: Fritz Reiner)
|Amelia's husband||baritone||Conrad Mayo|
|Amelia's lover||tenor||William Martin|
|Amelia's friend||contralto||Edwina Eustis|
|The Chief of Police||bass||Leonard Treash|
|The cook||mezzo-soprano||Wilburta Horn|
|The maid||mezzo-soprano||Charlotte Daniels|
|Chorus of nosy neighbours, passersby, police and ambulance men|
Amelia, a wealthy young socialite, is in her boudoir getting ready for the first ball of the season. However, her husband has discovered that she has a lover and refuses to accompany Amelia unless she reveals his name. When she reveals that her lover is their upstairs neighbour, a general melee breaks out between the jealous husband and her pesty lover, with Amelia eventually breaking a vase over her husband's head. When the police arrive, she tells them that a burglar had entered the apartment and attacked her husband with the vase. Her husband is taken to hospital, her lover is arrested as the burglar, and Amelia leaves for the ball on the arm of the Chief of Police who has come to investigate.
The full version of the score is orchestrated for 3 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion, celeste, xylophone, harp and strings.The score was described by the Time Magazine, critic who attended the world premiere as "full of glowing, facetious music admirably suited to the story", and by the New York World-Telegram as "delightful", "vivacious" and "tuneful" in a review of its first performance at the Met. However, following a performance of Amelia Goes to the Ball in Birmingham (England) in 1989, Jan Smaczny writing for Opera described it as a "breath-takingly banal" combination of "blunt pastiche" and "overripe verismo lyricism".
Un ballo in maschera(A Masked Ball) is an 1859 opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The text, by Antonio Somma, was based on Eugène Scribe's libretto for Daniel Auber's 1833 five act opera, Gustave III, ou Le bal masqué.
The Old Maid and the Thief is a radio opera in one act by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. The work uses an English language libretto by the composer which tells a twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power. Menotti writes in the libretto "The devil couldn't do what a woman can- Make a thief out of an honest man."
The Consul is an opera in three acts with music and libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti, his first full-length opera.
Il castello di Kenilworth is a melodramma serio or tragic opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Andrea Leone Tottola wrote the Italian libretto after Victor Hugo's play Amy Robsart (1828) and Eugène Scribe's play Leicester, both of which following from Sir Walter Scott's novel Kenilworth (1821). Daniel Auber composed another opera on the same subject, Leicester, ou Le chateau de Kenilworth in 1823.
ZazàItalian pronunciation: [dzadˈdza] is an opera by Ruggero Leoncavallo, with a libretto by the composer. The story concerns the French music hall singer, Zazà, and her affair and subsequent decision to leave her lover, Milio, when she discovers that he is married. The music is influenced by the French music halls where Leoncavallo had spent his early years as a composer.
Le duc d'Albe or Il duca d'Alba is an opera in three acts originally composed by Gaetano Donizetti in 1839 to a French language libretto by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier. Its title, which translates as The Duke of Alba, refers to its protagonist Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba. The work was intended for performance at the Paris Opéra. However, William Ashbrook notes that "Rosine Stoltz, the director's mistress, disliked her intended role of Hélène and Donizetti put the work aside when it was half completed".
Le pauvre matelot is a three-act opera composed by Darius Milhaud with libretto by Jean Cocteau. It was given its premiere on 16 December 1927 by the Opéra-Comique at the Salle Favart in Paris. Le pauvre matelot is short, lasting about 35 minutes when performed, and is dedicated to Henri Sauguet. The composer conducted a complete recording with forces of the Paris Opera in 1956. Although Cocteau claimed that the story was inspired by a news item in a paper, the scenario can be found in a 17th-century Franco-Canadian song 'Le Funeste Retour', and the tragedy Der vierundzwanzigste Februar by Werner of 1808.
Medea is an opera in three acts composed by Giovanni Pacini to a libretto by Benedetto Castiglia. It premiered on 28 November 1843 at the Teatro Carolino in Palermo, conducted by the composer with Geltrude Bortolotti in the title role. The libretto is based on the plays Medea by Euripides and Médée by Pierre Corneille.
Didone abbandonata is an opera in three acts composed by Domenico Sarro to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio of the same name which was based on the story of Dido and Aeneas from the fourth book of Virgil's Aeneid. The opera premiered on 1 February 1724 at the Teatro San Bartolomeo in Naples.
Florence Kirk was an American soprano. Raised in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kirk graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1931 with degrees in music and education. She then entered the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied opera. She made her professional opera debut in 1937 portraying the title role in Gian Carlo Menotti's Amelia Goes to the Ball at the New Amsterdam Theatre. She was a member of the Civic Grand Opera Company in Philadelphia between 1937-1938 where she sang such roles as Ines in Il trovatore and the title role in Aida. She was also active with the New Opera Company in New York City during the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Nicola Zerola was an Italian operatic tenor who had an active international career from 1898-1928. He began his career in his native country, but was soon heard in concerts and operas internationally during the first years of the 20th century. In 1908 he relocated to the United States where he was active with important opera companies in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia up into the late 1920s. Between 1909 and 1911 he recorded 13 issued sides for the Victor Talking Machine Company at their Camden, New Jersey studios. He also made 11 solo recordings and one duet for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company in England in 1910-1911.
Tutti in maschera is an opera by Carlo Pedrotti. The libretto is by Marco Marcelliano Marcello, based on the 1759 comedy L'impresario delle Smirne by Carlo Goldoni. It was premiered at the Teatro Nuovo, Verona, on 4 November 1856.
The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore or The Three Sundays of a Poet is a "madrigal fable" for chorus, ten dancers and nine instruments with music and original libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti. Based on the 16th-century Italian madrigal comedy genre, it consists of a prologue and 12 madrigals which tell a continuous story, interspersed with six musical interludes. The unicorn, gorgon, and manticore in the title are allegories for three stages in the life of the story's protagonist, a strange poet who keeps the mythical creatures as pets. The work premiered in Washington D.C. at the Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium on October 19, 1956.
Alice Zeppilli was a French operatic soprano of Italian heritage who had an active international singing career from 1901 to 1930. The pinnacle of her career was in the United States where she enjoyed great popularity between 1906 and 1914; particularly in the cities of Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. She was popular in Monte Carlo where she performed frequently from 1904–19 and later worked as a singing teacher after her retirement from the stage. She made only one recording, a phonograph cylinder for Columbia Records consisting of the Gavotte from Jules Massenet's Manon and Olympia's Doll Aria from Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann.
Gloria is a tragic opera in three acts by Francesco Cilea with an Italian libretto by Arturo Colautti. A variation on the Romeo and Juliet story and set in 14th century Siena, the libretto is based on Victorien Sardou's 1874 play La Haine (Hatred). The opera premiered on 15 April 1907 at La Scala conducted by Arturo Toscanini with Solomiya Krushelnytska in the title role. Gloria was a failure at its premiere when it was withdrawn after two performances and fared little better in the 1932 revised version, although there have been two late 20th century revivals. It proved to be Cilea's last staged opera. In the 43 years following the premiere of Gloria he worked on two or three further operas which were never performed and continued to compose chamber and orchestral music.
Gian Carlo Menotti was an Italian-American composer and librettist. Although he often referred to himself as an American composer, he kept his Italian citizenship. He wrote the classic Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, along with over two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular taste.
Herbert Handt is an American operatic tenor and later conductor, particularly known for his conducting and editions of rarely performed Italian scores. Handt was born in Philadelphia and studied at the Juilliard School of Music and the Vienna Academy of Music. He made his debut as a singer at the Vienna State Opera in 1949 and his debut as a conductor in Rome in 1960.
Abigaille Bruschi-Chiatti was an Italian soprano who sang in the principal opera houses of Italy as well as in Latin America and at the Teatro Real in Spain. Amongst the roles she created were Amelia di Egmont in the 1882 posthumous premiere of Donizetti's Il duca d'Alba and Élisabeth de Valois in the 1884 revised version of Verdi's Don Carlos.
Maria Cecilia Fusco was an Italian operatic soprano and voice teacher. In a long career, she appeared regularly at La Scala in Milan, and leading opera houses in Italy and abroad. Her broad repertoire included works from early Italian opera to premieres of contemporary opera.