Verona, Teatro Filarmonico: An Enchanting “Giorno di Regno”

Verona, Teatro Filarmonico, Stagione Lirica 2012 / 2013
“UN GIORNO DI REGNO” (Il finto Stanislao)
Melodramma giocoso in due atti su libretto di Felice Romani e Temistocle Solera dalla farsa “Le faux Stanislas” di Alexandre-Vincent Pineux-Duval
Musica di Giuseppe Verdi
Il Cavalier Belfiore, sotto il nome di Stanislao Re di Polonia FILIPPO POLINELLI
Il Barone Kelbar  SIMON LIM
La Marchesa del Poggio TERESA ROMANO
Edoardo di Sanval  JAEYOON JUNG
Il signor La Rocca  FILIPPO FONTANA
Il Conte di Ivrea  IAN SHIN
Orchestra e Coro dell’Arena di Verona
Direttore Stefano Ranzani
Maestro del Coro Armando Tasso
Regia, scene e costumi Pier Luigi Pizzi
ripresa da Paolo Panizza
Luci di Vincenzo Raponi
Coreografie Luca Veggetti
riprese da Maria Grazia Garofoli
Allestimento del Teatro Regio di Parma e Teatro Comunale di Bologna 1997.
Verona, 3 marzo 2013

An absolutely delightful production of  Verdi’s Un Giorno di Regno at the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona .  Entitled  Un Giorno di Regnomelodramma giocoso, an opera in two acts, it was Verdi’s only comic opera until he wrote Falstaff, over fifty years later. Ironically it was composed in the most tragic moment of Verdi’s life, the death of his young wife following closely on the deaths of  his infant children. Verdi was not happy with the libretto which he deemed the least worst of those proferred to him by La Scala’s impresario Merelli, to whom he was under contract.  However out of the rather silly story of Felice Romani’s unexceptional libretto Verdi managed to write an opera of  charm and melodic facility. The scoring of the opera may seem primitive compared to Verdi’s later works but in it we find the many germs of  his future operas, especially in the accompaniments, which  we can identify with Nabucco and Rigoletto, and in the ensembles of public humiliation and conflicting interest of La Traviata, Il Ballo in Maschera and Otello. At the same time, the work shows the infuence of the dominating style of his predecessors Rossini, Donizetti and Meyerbeer in  similar contexts. Like Rossini, for example, he equates high spirits with a liberal use of piccolo and percussion instruments. However, the first performance of the opera was a failure and Verdi declared he would never compose again. Perhaps it is this failure that convinced Verdi to follow his own distinctive style, and his struggle against prevailing conditions and contemporary taste, for it was his next opera, Nabucco, that established  a definite change of direction in Verdi’s composition. For this reason, Un giorno di Regno is particularly interesting as an opera of transition. The operatic traditions of his predecessors are very evident, but they are vying with glimpses of  Verdi’s future individual and innovative style.
With this in mind,  the production by Pier Luigi Pizzi can be considered to show the opera off to its best advantage, and in so doing, renders hommage to Verdi  by highlighting the opera’s intrinsic values without being patronizing or supercilious.  Added to an aesthetically beautiful, elegant and harmonious sets and costumes, with hints of affectionate and cheeky references, (the kitchen scene replete with rows of hanging parma hams and the shelves of  big, whole round parmesan cheese forms ), is the attentive and delicate handling of the directing. The scenery, cosumes, lighting and direction never distract nor interfere  with the music or interpretation, nor vilify it, but enhance and  elevate it.  The solid vocal techniques of the young soloists from the La Scala  Accademy also facilitate this choice, needing no other guile as support.  The clarity of  Pizzi’s production unravels a complicated and confused story, and presents it to the audience in an intelligible and elegant manner. The 18th century costumes are monochromatic for each principal character, helping to individuate and identify each one of them during the action, against a chorus of rustics and servants in refined tonalities of beige.  The location has been moved from the border of Poland and Russia to Parma , (hence the references),  and the scenery is inspired by the classicism of its palaces and the discreet nuances of their stone colours and is devoid of all ornamentation.  Quick, smooth and silent recomposition of the inter-changeable mobile scenery pieces, give depth, height and breadth to the stage, forming monumental arched interior palace walls, huge atriums, lateral staircases, a grand central one, a pyramidal garden one, a lofty library with gallery and  a giant-sized kitchen.  The use, by the soloists and chorus, of the various levels, front and side-facing stairs, mezzanine or upper gallery, rooms of different levels, creates a sense of space and movement and fills the stage without crowding it.   The lighting too, is subtle, simple and atmospheric, especially in the suffused light and shadows of palace interiors and in the softly mutating hues of blue on the backdrop simulating the passage of time in this opera which takes place in the span of a day.
The support of such a fine production, gave the cast of young singers the opportunity to present themselves at their best.  Generally, this they did with a strong and fresh vocality.   The baritone Filippo Polinelli, was a polished Belfiore, with his even, round and seamless voice matching his acting ease and confidence.  The soprano, Teresa Romano, an alumna of the Academy, as the Marchesa, coupled her rich, full lyric, of  equally strong lower and upper registers, with a strong sense of colour and phrasing. At times her emission wasn’t homogeneous, detracting from an otherwise commanding performance.  The clear, ringing and articulate tenor voice of Jaeyoon Jung, standing in for an indisposed Alessandro Scotto di Luzio, as Edoardo, was a charming and agreeable presence although his lower register resulted a little feeble and his aria at the beginning of the second act  needed to be reinforced.  Ludmilla Bauerfeldt as Giulietta, gave a delightful portrayal especially when singing in the higher register where a slight but insistent tremble, apparent in the middle register, disappeared.  The two “buffi” Filippo Fontana, as La Rocca, and Simon Lin as the Baron were appropriately entertaining and vocally solid, although Lin’s diction , very clear in his lower notes, tended to become woolly as he ascended.  The cast was more than decorously completed by the tenors Ian Shin and Carlos Cardoso in the comprimario roles of  Count Ivrea and Delmonte. The singing of the chorus was clean, clear and compact (ignoring a couple of  misshaps of syncronization with the orchestra),  with particular attention paid to expressive accents  that gave impulse to otherwise rather ordinary chorus music.  The ballet lent  a pleasing comment to the relevant scenes.  Stefano Ranzani, with great verve, gave a tight and bright reading of the opera, obtaining precision in the technical passages from the orchestra although the tempi were always on the offensive and could have been relaxed from time to time to give a change of pace and  feeling.  The dynamics of the orchestra never seemed to go below a mezzo forte and were generally too loud and heavy, which gave a rather monotonous effect, especially in the more Donizettian and Rossinian moments.  A merited successful premier, production and performance was very warmly and appreciatively received by a rightly enthusiastic audience.  The first success of this otherwise rather grey season of the Fondazione Arena. Photo Ennevi – Fondazione Arena di Verona