Elisa Balbo: Art will always find a way

Artist gifted with great stylistic and vocal ductility, she tackles a vast repertoire that includes Rossini (Anna Erisso in Mohammed II, Anaï in Moïse, Amenaide in Tancredi), Verdi (Desdemona in Otello, Alice in Falstaff, Violetta in La Traviata), Puccini (Mimi and Musetta in La Bohème, Liù in Turandot). She plays Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen and also goes into the Verismo repertoire singing Nedda in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Stephana in Giordano’s Siberia, and in the rarer repertoire interpreting, for example, the impervious Countess of Boissy in Lo Schiavo by Gomes with great consensus of public and critics. In addition, a few years after her debut at the Filiarmonico di Verona in The Merry Widow, she will return to play the role of the rich Hanna Glawari for the inauguration of the 2020-2021 season at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa. The Ligurian soprano, appreciated for her excellent musicality, softness, the freshness of timbre and outstanding acting skills, has had the opportunity to establish herself internationally by performing on important stages with eminent conductors including Riccardo Muti. She has performed on stages such as the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, La Fenice di Venezia, the Arena di Verona, the Philharmonic Theater of Verona, the Wiener Konzerthaus of Vienna, the Ravenna Festival, the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Bunka Mura di Tokyo, the International Music Hall in Moscow, the Great Rubinstein Rimsij-Korsakov Theater in St. Petersburg, the Rossini Festival in Wildbad, the Toscanini Auditorium in Turin covering a vast repertoire, and has been the protagonist of award-winning recordings. Passionate and sensitive for the sacred and symphonic repertoire, she performs Carmina Burana at the Moscow International Music House, the Symphony no.2, op.52 by  Mendelsohn-Bartholdy at Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Oratorie de Noël by Saint-Sëans at Duomo di Milano, Requiem by Mozart in a tour in Japan with the Orchestra Rossini of Pesaro and the Vier Letze Lieder by Richard Strauss. Also noteworthy are her interpretations of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle at Teatro dell’Opera in Rome and Stabat Mater in Pesaro. Since 2013 she has been a guest of opera gala at the Verona Arena. The concert activity for the general public is also of great importance, including a world tour alongside Andrea Bocelli.

Dear Elisa, it’s a pleasure to interview you and, even since the beginning, I want to express my deep regret caused by the fact that, due to the new DPCM available since October 26th until November 26th, your next project, Faust rapsodia at the 2020 Ravenna Festival won’t be available to the public, so I won’t be able to attend it. These new restrictions got you in the middle of rehearsals. Where should we start? Tell me about the concept, a stage setting between Schumann’s profane oratorio and Goethe’s prose.

As Luca Micheletti – director and creator of this Faust Rhapsody – likes to tell this story, Goethe suggested in his prologue to Faust, to tear down his play, make it into pieces, combine them as in a ragout. That is what enabled the symbiosis with Schumann’s Scenes from Faust, which was by definition a fragmentary creation of some of his most beloved scenes that were composed in different years and eventually combined to form an unfinished secular oratory. Another unique feature is the language of the entire project: a XVIII century Italian based on the translations by Andrea Maffei for the play and Vittorio Radicati (Schumann’s son in law) for the music. It might sound very strange to perform Schuman in Italian, but it actually constitutes the very first Italian version performed in 1895, and it is a rarity that has been brought to light for the first time in modern years by our conductor Antonio Greco. As Cristina Mazzavillani Muti likes to point out, we need to find something “positive” in this pandemic crisis; maybe the creation of a new theatrical genre, which allows music and words to penetrate each other completely? I truly feel part of something exceptional and unique, especially amid these many adversities, we get to work together with a fantastic team of actors and singers. Vito Priante and Riccardo Zanellato are respectively Faust and Mephistopheles, while Edoardo Siravo and Roberto Latini are their spoken doubles. They incarnate Man and Evil. Fascinatingly indeed, to double male characters, a single female voice responds. I will in fact be both Margherita and La Cura (the Worry), to point out that the Feminine is an ideal, a reason and an end to Man’s (in universal terms) quest for happiness, and the ultimate viaticum for redemption, as to underline the parallel to Dante’s Comedy in his 700th anniversary. As for the stage setting, Luca Micheletti decided to use all the parts of the theatre. It therefore becomes a factory of metamorphosis for the human mind. If everything goes well, you’ll see despair, love, curses, devils, angels, revenge, the banality of evil, the triumph of good and, to make a long story short, a long journey full of humanity.

Read the entire interview here, in the 7th issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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