Colasanti: Proserpine, World Premiere at Spoleto Festival

Colasanti: Proserpine, World Premiere at Spoleto Festival

The 62nd edition of the Festival dei Due Mondi gets underway in Spoleto, Italy this June 28 at Teatro Nuovo Gian Carlo Menotti, with the world premiere of Silvia Colasanti’s Proserpine (repeat performance: June 30). An opera in two acts for seven soloists and chamber orchestra, with libretto in English, Proserpine will be performed by the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, conducted by Pierre André Valade.

Inspired by Mary Shelley’s verse drama by the same name, and adapted by René de Ceccatty, Proserpine “focuses on the female characters, especially Ceres,” Silvia Colasanti explains.  “So more than the ‘rat’s’ violence, it highlights a mother’s separation from her daughter, and the love of a mother who takes on the power of the gods, along with the strength and solidarity offered by a community of women.”

On stage, featuring scenery designed by the artist Sandro Chia, is a cast made up almost entirely of women, in an assortment of vocal ranges: Ceres (mezzo-soprano), Proserpine (soprano), nymphs Ino (soprano) and Eunoe (mezzo-soprano), Iris (mezzo-soprano), Jove’s messenger, Arethusa (mezzo-soprano), and Ascalaphus (baritone), demon of the Underworld and the opera’s only male character. The direction is by Giorgio Ferrara.

Colasanti also had this to say about the opera:

“It opens with an instrumental Prelude, Omens, an unsettling, menacing dream of sorts, which foreshadows the tragedy that occurs halfway through the first act. Mary Shelley never actually had the rat appear on stage, so this crucial episode is depicted only through music, and later on it is part of the story told by Arethusa. There’s another instrumental interlude between the first and the second acts, entitled The Spring Decrease, which recounts Ceres’ torment, which is the cause of a long winter on the Earth’s surface. In the second act, Proserpine makes her return from the Underworld and reveals her newfound wisdom, acquiescing to Jove’s decision – she is to live with Ceres on Earth for six months out of the year, and spend the other six months as queen of the Underworld, goddess of the night and ruler of demons. The women all empathize with and show solidarity for Proserpine. In a duet with her mother – which is gradually filled with the voices of the others in a long, drawn out farewell – Proserpine proclaims full awareness of her maturity […].”

Proserpine was commissioned by the 62nd edition of the Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto, Italy. 

Opera in two acts for seven soloists and chamber orchestra
after Mary Shelley’s drama, adapted by René de Ceccatty
2S, 4MS, Bar – / harp 2 perc /
Duration: 75’

Go to composer profile

Image: Kim Mariani