Francesca da Rimini
Saverio Mercadante 1795–1870
Dramma per musica in two acts
Libretto by Felice Romani
First performed August 6 2016, Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca
A production from the Tirol Festival in Erl
Sung in Italian with German & English surtitles
Introductory talks (in German) in the Holzfoyer 30 mins before performances begin and available here on video shortly before opening night
They married to seal the dynastical union of two families, but the wife loves her husband’s brother – a breach of trust, that ends in catastrophe.
The inevitable tragedy in the passionate love story between Francesca da Polenta and Paolo Malatesta, immortalised in Dante‘s Divina Commedia, appealed to many artists, including the librettist Felice Romani, with whom Saverio Mercadante loved working.
It was written in 1830 while Mercadante was living in Madrid for a second time. The score, in which Rossini’s influence is evident, focusses on Francesca, Paolo und Lanciotto. The meeting between sister and brother-in-laws in her bedroom is the dramatic and emotional climax to the opera.
Various unfortunate circumstances and rivalry between singers twice prevented the world premiere of Francesca da Rimini taking place during Mercadante’s lifetime – in Madrid, then Milan. The opera had to wait nearly 200 years before it was seen and heard for the first time in 2016, at the Festival della Valle d’Itria. The composer and his 58 operas are almost completely forgotten today, despite the fact that his »canto drammatico«, written in the 1830s, which integrated vocal virtuosity and drama, completely reformed Italian opera after Rossini.