L'amico Fritz closes the Maggio season from 1 to 5 March 2022
Mascagni's fresh and modern opera, based on a delicate love story, returns to Florence after 83 years
L'amico Fritz by Mascagni makes its debut on Tuesday 5 March at 8 pm at the Sala Mehta, the auditorium of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, with four further performances on 3 and 9 March at 8 pm, 6 March at 3.30 pm and 12 March at 6 pm. An opera comedy in three acts that this production performs without intermission, for a total duration of 1½ hours.
Over the years, L'amico Fritz has been plagued by unflattering critical opinions (more for the text than for the music, however), first and foremost that of Giuseppe Verdi, who described the opera as "stupid" for the lightness and inconsistency of its libretto. But perhaps the critics had not realised that lightness was precisely the opera's ultimate aim; an opera where the audience, not "distracted" by a demanding libretto, would be lulled by the delicacy of its music.
A fresh, sweet music suitable for the good-hearted - as the composer himself defined it - which lightly depicts the little love story of Fritz Kobus, an unrepentant bachelor from the village, and the enchanting Suzel, his farmer's daughter, who will make him fall in love.
The last opera title of the season before the start of the 84th edition of the Maggio Musicale Festival is conducted by Riccardo Frizza and directed by Rosetta Cucchi. Alongside them is a very interesting company of singers: Charles Castronovo, making his Maggio debut, is Fritz Kobus, Salome Jicia is Suzel, Teresa Iervolino plays Beppe the gypsy, while the role of Davide the rabbi is played by Massimo Cavalletti. With them are Dave Monaco, Francesco Samuele Venuti and Caterina Meldolesi. In this new production, scenes and costumes are by Gary McCann, lights by Daniele Naldi. The choirmaster is Lorenzo Fratini.
The opera comedy has only been staged at the Maggio on two previous occasions, the first in 1939, the other in 1941 when L'amico Fritz was directed by Pietro Mascagni himself.
The director, Rosetta Cucchi, declared that she had had a few problems with the staging of the opera: the Zubin Mehta hall has fantastic acoustics, but as it is an auditorium it does not have a trellis, that is, the structure of the stage which allows the backdrops, scenes and suspended stage machinery to be installed and moved.
The solution adopted is original, and will astonish the spectators, who will find themselves as if they were at the cinema: a black box of sixteen nones will be set up, which will cut out the stage, thus giving the impression of a real cinema reproduction.
The other novelty of this Florentine production will be the setting. No longer the original Alsace of the 19th century, but the New York of the 1980s, an ironic, light-hearted setting, perfectly in line with Mascagni's vision.