Sciarrino returns to Ricordi with a new opera

Sciarrino returns to Ricordi with a new opera

Salvatore Sciarrino’s upcoming works are slated for publication by Casa Ricordi. They’ll be added to the composer’s already extensive catalogue of music published by Ricordi, which dates from 1969 to 2004. Sciarrino’s works composed from 2004 to 2021 were published by Rai Com.

Una lettera e 6 canti, for voice and six musicians, co-commissioned by Milano Musica, Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques, Acht Brücken Festival Musik für Köln, makes its world premiere in Milano, May 8, 2022.

In 2023 we’ll be treated to the world premiere of his new opera Venere e Adone, with libretto by Fabio Casadei Turroni and Salvatore Sciarrino, commissioned by the Staatsoper Hamburg.

Venere e Adone: Composer’s Notes

“Naufragio di un mito” – which is to say, destruction of a myth. To get a better grip on this subtitle, let’s start at the end. Indeed, the Epilogue sees the return to the stage of the entire cast of characters, and together they sing without mincing words: You have just witnessed a great love story. They then ask themselves, Who has won out, Love or Death?

Let’s reconsider Watteau’s painting The Embarkation for Cythera. It shows a throng of gallant couples wandering about the coast. Have they just landed, or are they about to set sail? This becomes a serious matter. They appear to be disoriented. Have they already been for some time on the island of Cythera, birthplace of Venus, or is this the island of the dead, a place they shall never leave?

Ancient mythology still plays a part in our daily lives, and how! Just look around: As I write these notes, the train I’m riding on passes through Campo di Marte, the secondary station of Florence. Marte, or Mars, was the Roman god of war, and this outlying district of Florence was once used for military exercises and parades.

Venere e Adone is a representation of the immortal gods with reserved cynicism, and those gods are the incarnation of the parody of every human weakness. Even Adone (Adonis), poor mortal that he is, makes himself look ridiculous with the cocksureness of a teenager. In reality, he is but a puppet manipulated by the gods. Venere (Venus, i.e., Aphrodite), the quintessence of a ruthless caprice, sympathizes with him, while she agrees to conceal one of her arrows among the arrows of Adone.

Paradoxically, among the protagonists, the Monster (i.e., the wild boar that kills Adonis) is the only character that shows any signs of sensitivity, however vague they may be.

The main source for the libretto is Adone by Giovan Battista Marino, the poet so adored by Monteverdi. Scene IV, Duettino, sees the addition of a refined psychological twist borrowed from Venus and Adonis by John Blow, who was Purcell’s maestro. A clue remains in the indication for the tempo of the scene that follows (Scene V, Aria di Adone): Caccia con 2 flauti obbligati.

Salvatore Sciarrino


photo: Luca Carrà © Rai Trade