Riccardo Frizza is back in Venice to conduct Verdi’s Ernani at the Teatro La Fenice on 16, 19, 22, 25 and 28 March.
“It’s always a joy to be back at La Fenice and this time it’s an even greater pleasure, since I’ll be conducting Verdi’s first “Venetian” opera in a new production with an excellent cast.
From a musical perspective, Ernani is less innovative than I Lombardi, having been written earlier. However, from a theatrical perspective it is revolutionary, given Verdi’s determination to play a decisive role in Piave’s choices, preventing him from making changes to the original work as librettists were in the habit of doing. Verdi was convinced that a libretto should preserve the original nature of the drama on which it was based. This choice distinguished him from Rossini and Donizetti for whom musical and theatrical material could be interchangeable. Of course, a theatre has everything to gain when composer and librettist are intent on pursuing such unprecedented uniformity of intent. The work was a great success and at the age of just thirty, Verdi was recognised as one of the protagonists of European cultural life.
Since then, there has always been extraordinary recognition of the work put into Ernani in the distribution of the three male voices, which in this particular opera became emblematic of Verdi’s work from both a psychological and a musical perspective. In the opera, in keeping with Verdi’s approach, the personalities of the main characters are clearly portrayed as soon as they appear on stage. I think the way in which they develop throughout the opera is magnificent and, rather than releasing the narrative tension, the many plot twists support this dramaturgical portrayal. Then there’s the Chorus which confirms its central role in Ernani, and not only for “Si ridesti il leon di Castiglia” which was to rouse the Venetians after that fateful 9 March 1844 and, just a few months later, so many other Italians, immediately becoming one of the most famous choruses of all during the Risorgimento.
With this premiere of Ernani, La Fenice is taking part in the Viva Verdi project, an initiative by the Ministry of Culture in conjunction with Italian theatres. Thanks to this project, the funds raised from ticket sales for the first performance of this Verdi opera will be used by the state to purchase and promote Giuseppe Verdi’s house museum in Sant’Agata di Villanova sull’Arda.
Lastly, Venice’s tribute to Verdi and to Ernani will be far-reaching thanks to Radio Rai 3 which is broadcasting the opening performance live on 16 March.”