ⓘ La nave


ⓘ La nave

La nave is an opera in a Prologue and three" Episodes” by Italian composer Italo Montemezzi. Its Italian language libretto was adapted by Tito Ricordi from Gabriele DAnnunzios 1908 play of the same name. It premiered at La Scala in Milan on November 3, 1918,


1. First performance

The opera premiered at La Scala in Milan on November 3, 1918, conducted by Tullio Serafin. La nave is a work which contains strongly patriotic and imperialistic themes, and fortune seemed to smile on its first performance when, after the conclusions of the first and second episodes, the performance was interrupted by announcements that Italian troops had entered Trento and Trieste respectively, thus signaling a successful end to Italy’s involvement in World War I. A myth later developed that La Nave had been a great popular and critical success in 1918. The source of this error appears to be a statement Serafin made in Opera News in 1953: La nave was received as well as – perhaps better than –. … it was received with warm enthusiasm by the critics of all the Milan papers …." In fact, Serafin was misremembering, and none of the reviews was particularly enthusiastic. The critics praised Montemezzi’s orchestral and choral writing, but criticised the opera for being insufficiently tuneful, too Germanic in style, and based on an unsuitable source. The most positive review, which appeared in the Corriere della Sera attributed to Renato Simoni by David Chandler, described the opera as a "sincere success" with the public, but also noted that the audience response had been "only occasionally truly enthusiastic."


2. Later performances

Productions followed in Chicago in 1919 and Verona in 1923. It was also revived in Rome in 1938. But many factors militated against the operas long term success. It was extremely expensive to stage, due to its large choruses, extravagant scenery, and, especially, the requirement of having a full-sized ship heading out to sea, on stage, in the final act. The lead roles are also very difficult. In addition, La nave s extremely violent and aggressively imperialistic rhetoric seemed out of place after the fall of Mussolini at the end of the Second World War.

La Nave was performed in New York City by Teatro Grattacielo in concert on October 31, 2012, the first time the opera had been heard in the United States since Montemezzi conducted it in Chicago in 1919.

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