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Breaking dawn

When Giuseppe Filianoti isn’t busy being one of the world’s more versatile tenors (as he will be next season at the Met, headlining La rondine and La clemenza di Tito), he plays detective. The latest target of his crafty Calabrian grey cells is the score to Francesco Cilèa’s L’Arlesiana, which he will perform in concert next week at Theater Freiburg, and in typically tenorial fashion, his discovery involves a “lost” aria for his character of Federico.

The aria, “Una mattina m’apriron nella stanza” was originally part of the third act duet for Federico and Vivetta, but was cut, along with a good deal of other material, when the composer reworked the original four-act version of the opera into the three-act edition we know today.

Filianoti recovered the piece almost by accident. He was preparing a set of Cilèa songs for a recital in Kansas City earlier this year when he found an obscure romanza “of surprising beauty and sophistication” entitled “Alba novella.” The text of this chamber piece felt oddly familiar, the tenor says.

Finally he recalled where he’d seen those words before. Years earlier, he had obtained from the Conservatorio di Napoli a rare copy of the libretto of the original 1897 version of L’Arlesiana that included a long passage for Federico fated to be omitted from later revisions. The texts for this section and for the chamber song were virtually identical, suggesting that when the composer removed the passage from his opera, he recycled it as a stand-alone piece.

Unfortunately, the 1897 score was never published, and the manuscript has vanished, most likely destroyed in a 1943 bombing that destroyed the archives of Sonzogno, Cilèa’s publisher.

“I decided to make known my discovery of the aria to the noted composer Mario Guido Scappucci,” Filianoti says. He suggested that his new collaborator “orchestrate the air faithfully following the dictates of the manuscript,” meanwhile contacting the publisher of the opera Sonzogno-Ostali to obtain permission to interploate the piece into the Freiburg performances.

“Signora Nandi Ostali was happy with my amazing discovery, and promptly decided to publish the piece,” he adds.

When Enrico Caruso created the role of Federico in 1897,  “Una mattina m’apriron nella stanza,” was singled out for praised by Amintore Galli  of Il secolo: “Federico’s aria with high violin arpeggios deserves special mention for its elegance and sweetness. Here, too, Cilèa seeks to write imitative and descriptive music: we seem to hear the amorous songs of birds, even the breeze in the air.” (Translation by Marion Lignana Rosenberg)

And now, this Saturday, Filianoti will be the first singer to perform this aria since Caruso’s day.

Photo: Helge Kirchberger

28 comments

  • messa di voce says:

    “noted composer Mario Guido Scappucci Viterbo”

    Fantastic!

    • La Cieca says:

      Should have been “Mario Guido Scappucci of Viterbo, i.e., that’s where he’s from.

    • m. croche says:

      I have to say that the name of Mario Guido Scappucci was unknown to me, with or without the Viterbo.

      But for those of us for whom, “Beim Schlafengehen” is ten minutes too short, here is the central song of Maestro Scappucci’s 8 Rilke Songs.

      Strauss once said that Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night sounded as though someone had taken the still-wet manuscript of Tristan and smeared it. One could say the same of this song, adding Strauss, Mahler and Beethoven (Op. 110, I at about the 2:15 mark) to the mix.

      • Camille says:

        This the one you mean, m. Croche?

        (Any excuse will do, for me, to post beloved Gould man. )
        It’s another ‘notte in bianco’ for me, sospiro lungo.

        I have to tell you that I finally summoned enough wherewithal to remember some thing your blogsite name--dragon--and found it. I listened to the Bad Nun condemned to Hellfires and I found Miss ST utterly charming and feel I would like to see this production, as she is clearly highly adept and practised in her art. So many gongs!! But the Sichuan province is fairly close to Tibet so maybe there is an influence? Dunno. I must highly commend you for helping this form of opera to be promulgated and more understood here in the Occident. Sheh-sheh!!

        • manou says:

          Clicking on m. croche’s name would have saved you some time, Camille.

        • m. croche says:

          Hey there, Camille:

          Many thanks for kind words. I’m glad you liked Shen Tiemei, she of the big eyes. Whether one likes Guo Wenjing’s music or not (I tend to), the show at Lincoln center will at the very least afford a brief (all too brief) opportunity to see and hear a couple of veteran performers.

  • decotodd says:

    Alert Parterrians! La Cieca and company’s touchstone “Harriet Craig” is on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday (July 12) at 10:45AM EST. (it is followed by “The Damned Don’t Cry”). Get those DVR’s fired up.

  • rysanekfreak says:

    Does anyone know if this performance will be webcast?

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Lovely news about the aditional aria. Filianotti will also be doing a new staged production of the opera next year in Italy.

  • Camille says:

    Tantissimi Auguri, Signor Filianoti--ti voglio tanto, TANTO bene!!

    Forza Calabria!
    finalmente un po’ di rispetto per il povero Cileà!!!

    Un bacione
    Camille

  • CruzSF says:

    A great story. If only more singers delved into the archives and history. And thanks, La Cieca, for expanding the type of articles you publish here.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Not to at all to diminish the importance of Giuseppe Filianotti’s identification of the use of the Cilea song “Alba novella” in L’arlesiana -- there are at least two commercial recordings of it. Flaviano Labò sang Alba novella as a bonus track in his recording of Cilea’s GLORIA (Bongiovanni 2cds GB2375-76) and it is included in the recording of Cilea songs sung by Anastasia Tomaszewska Schepis ( also on Bongiovanni label, duration: 2 minutes: 57) sample is here: http://www.allmusic.com/performance/alba-novella-for-voice-piano-mq0000657788

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      The soprano Alba Novella (no relation) was the Nedda in the 1931 film of Pagliacci.

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        Anyone for a game of famous Alba’s?

        • Camille says:

          Frances Albda.

          Sorry, I just couldn’t help meself!

          Hey, QPFster! Do you still want a copy of the Anna Magnani film “E avanti a lui tremava TUT-TA Roma”??? I have a perfectly useless copy (zoned for Europa and I don’t know how to convert it). If you want it, I will shoot it over to the Blind Lady’s house. Just let Herself or me know your preference.

          In fede con tanto rispetto--
          Camille

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            Thank you very much Camille. If La Cieca is willing to receive the video, maybe she can post it as a youtube. That would be great.

          • Camille says:

            Okay, QPF!
            I’ll make sure Cieca gets it and you can decide between yourselves what to do. It has been on a shelf now for almost four years and should be seen.

            Thanks for posting that wonderful little film about Glyndebourne. It gave me the unheard off joy of witnessing Sena Jurinac sing a bit of the Countess, which was a bit of heaven and a revelation to me. It made me understand a very great deal of that which I have always had a hard time of, with Mozart.

      • Camille says:

        You mean with Gigli? Or Tauber?

    • Camille says:

      Fiorenza Cedolins is not the Gloria there, o no? That’s the only one I am aware of. She sings pretty well there but it has been quite some time ago now

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

  • Hippolyte says:

    I’m surprised no one has pointed out that Filianoti sang L’Arlesiana at Carnegie Hall in 2007 with Opera Orchestra of NY. His co-stars were Latonia Moore and Marianne Cornetti and he was superb, as were the ladies.

    • Camille says:

      I am glad you mentioned it as after having heard a bit I must say that this is superb:


      Just beautiful. Would that the Met would present l’Arlesian with these two!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says: