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Il Turco in Italia is not a comic opera; rather, I would call it an opera in which humorous intrigue, in all its theatrical and metatheatrical dimensions and variations, also allows for the expression of authentic human feelings, revealed behind the masks of comedy, with a tone that sometimes comes close to that of serious opera.

As a result, everything that seems to be “amusing”, despite appearances, is not so at all. The humorous register is nothing other than a framework which allows the opera to unfold on three different interpretative planes: the plot with its characters, which Arbasino suggests could be seen as a precursor to Pirandello’s “Six characters in search of an author”; the metatheatrical component, represented by poet Prosdocimo’s journey, as he writes his parallel drama; and, finally, on a purely musical level, bringing us true human emotions, beyond the story told in masquerade.

Il Turco in Italia is the most Mozartian of Rossini’s operas, a fraternal twin to Così fan tutte, but equally rich in constant references to other masterpieces by Mozart, such as Le Nozze di Figaro, La clemenza di Tito and also Don Giovanni.

Rossini was just twenty-two years old when he gave us this opera of extraordinary beauty, almost perfect in form. For the sake of accuracy, we must not forget that some of the pieces in the opera are not the work of Rossini himself (and the same goes for all the dry recitatives, as was normal practice at that time). Geronio’s cavatina, Albazar’s aria and, surprisingly, the opera’s extremely poetic, gentle finale were all composed by an unnamed, closely trusted assistant. 

The fact is, although the opening performance of the opera at La Scala in Milan in 1814 was not a great success, in the 1950s it gained a permanent place in the repertoire.   

From our perspective, for this Genoese production we have chosen specifically to highlight the three levels of interpretation as much as possible, with a light-handed approach to use of the orchestra that fully enhances the connection I’ve mentioned between those geniuses from Salzburg and Pesaro, opting at the same time for clear melancholic pathos when required by the narrative and the music.

The variations and cadenzas for the soloists and the embellishments for the orchestra solos were composed specially for this production, these singers, and this orchestra, in full respect of authentic Italian Belcanto tradition. 

I have decided to present this opera in its full, original version with an additional aria added at the end: Geronio’s aria "Se ho da dirla avrei molto piacere", and the cabaletta in Fiorilla’s aria in the second act, which originated in the Rome version. I have also chosen to keep Albazar’s aria which is frequently edited out in other productions.

The idea is to maintain a tight pace in the narrative, taking Rossini’s characteristic sillabato almost to the extreme and trying, where possible, to link numbers seamlessly to the recitatives. 


Cover photo © Teatro Carlo Felice


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