Colasanti: new opera Anna A. for La Scala
Teatro alla Scala announced a new opera commission to Silvia Colasanti, first woman composer to be featured from the Italian opera house. The opera, Anna A., will be staged in 2025 and will be focused on the poet Anna Achmatova, with libretto by the Italian writer and Russian literature specialist Paolo Nori, who has just published a book on the same subject.
Here the first lines by composer Silvia Colasanti about the upcoming project.
Composer's notes for Anna A.
Soviet-era poetess and dissident Lydia Chukovskaya – fighting to save her husband, the young physicist Matvei Bronstein, who in reality had already been murdered by the Stalinist regime – pays a visit to her friend Anna Achmatova, also a poet, nearly every day. Anna’s son Lev has been arrested for the second time. While awaiting her son’s sentencing, Anna goes to Leningrad’s Kresty Prison, where she meets up with other mothers of detainees, and she becomes their spokesperson. They have a special request – that she transform this dramatic experience into poetry.
Lydia and Anna’s meetings involve not only Lydia’s commitment to memory of Anna’s verses. Anna also shares with her friend her memories of her late husband Nikolai Gumilev, who was banned from the USSR’s writers’ union; her encounter with British students who questioned her about the situation; her meeting with American poet Robert Frost; the solidarity that saved her from starvation when the Soviet state buckled down and seemed determined to crush her once and for all.
The musical dramaturgy recounts the strength and authenticity that Anna showed time and time again as she lived through one intense experience after another. A wide array of registers will be explored – from the melancholy to the tragedy of her love life; the destructive, senseless obsession on the part of the powers that be, that futility attempt to suppress the voice of art; the lament and prayers of the mothers of detainees, whom Anna is destined to represent.
The classical lineup makes room for typically Russian instruments, while the contemporary musical format shines the spotlight on widely known stylistic features from the Russian songbook. Anna’s most intimate vocal moments find conflation with violin solos, as she sings out, never wearying of all the “horrible and wonderful” experiences fate has in store for her.
Photo: © Max Pucciariello