Tutino: Miseria e nobiltà WP in Genoa

Tutino: Miseria e nobiltà WP in Genoa

Loosely based on the homonymous play by Eduardo Scarpetta, one of the greatest comic actors and playwrights in popular Neapolitan theater of the late 1800s, Marco Tutino’s Miseria e nobiltà, with book by Luca Rossi and Fabio Ceresa, makes its world premiere at Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice this February 23. 
Here’s an excerpt from the program notes, in which the composer provides insight into his latest work.  

Opera buffa, a genre born in Naples in the early 1700s, exported and developed by Italians over the course of something like 200 years, connotes and defines a tradition that’s so vast, important and varied that it’s startling. It’s no coincidence that in the 20th century, very few Italian composers sought to reproduce such extravaganzas. One did succeed, however, thanks to his extraordinary and still misunderstood genius, and that was Nino Rota. His 'Cappello di paglia di Firenze' is one of the great opera masterpieces of the 20th century. […] The temptation to give it a go was irresistible. Now and then there came to mind some wonderful examples from northern Europe, like Tippet’s 'The Midsummer Marriage', Britten’s 'Albert Herring', and of course Bernstein’s 'Candide'. 

The version of Miseria e nobiltà created by Rossi, Ceresa and myself makes no claim to be entirely faithful to the original. The events are imagined at a much later date, in the days of the 1946 referendum in Italy, which ousted the monarchy and ushered in the republic. […]. We’ve limited the characters, Scarpetta’s lowly crew is made up of the Sciosciammocca family, and that’s it […]. As for the plot, we weren’t exactly into settling for 19th-century gags that seem to follow one another in a kind of domino effect, where situations give rise to other situations, oftentimes with no end in sight. Things begin to unfold following a series of more complex events. The characters’ motivation is more connected to a story that delves even further into the psychological context, as well as social and cultural influences. 

Of course, like the post-war works of musical comedy I just mentioned, our 21st-century interpretation of Miseria e nobiltà isn’t only opera buffa, tout court. By now, our perception has been irremediably influenced and corrupted by an array of low-level genres which for more than a hundred years have altered our demands and expectations. Anyone who’s familiar with 'Falstaff', operetta, musicals, Nino Rota, Totò, Mel Brooks, and so much more […], will never settle for the theatrical and linguistic mechanisms used by Rossini and Donizetti, no matter how sublime and unique they are. Today, comedy and lightness are inevitably marked by distress and shadows, prone to deny themselves at every turn. Every laugh hides a tear, every sneer conceals a bit of nostalgia. OK, it was always like this […] but today this kind of relationship is much clearer. It’s also more sought after, almost a burning contradiction that gives off another kind of energy – a third theatrical dimension, beyond the comic and the tragic. Something new, a new genre to discover. This provides a lot of potential for new creations in opera, it’s something to be explored […]. We’ve given it a shot. Our main goal is to entertain the audience […].

Marco Tutino’s Miseria e nobiltà was commissioned by Teatro Carlo Felice.

Opera in two acts, losely based on the homonymous play by Eduardo Scarpetta
Libretto by Luca Rossi and Fabio Ceresa
2 (II also picc.). 2 (II also cor.i.). 2. bcl. 2. / 2. 2. 2. - . / timp. perc. harp / strings
Bettina, soprano; Peppiniello, children’s voice or mezzo-soprano/soprano;
Gemma, mezzo-soprano; Eugenio, tenor; Farmer/Waiter, tenore di carattere;
Felice Sciosciammocca, bariton; Don Gaetano, bass-bariton buffo; Ottavio, bass;
People, SATB Chorus

Photo: Bepi Caroli