Il Melodramma ovvero la disfatta della donna, the story of the women

Article edited by Leila Grace Hills.

OPERA Charm Magazine, always ready to support & promote innovative ideas, which are very much needed in the environment of the live performance nowadays, & young promising performers, wants to thank GVManagement & Christian Sforza for inviting us to the dress rehearsal or anteprima of the show Il Melodramma ovvero la disfatta della Donna, conceived & stage directed by Sandro Santillo.

The event took place on May 5th at ArciBellezza, Milan and had three women as its protagonists – a pianist, an actor and a soprano. Indeed, the idea behind this ingenious mix between opera arias & drama moments is to tell the story of the woman, throughout music, words and the lyric soprano voice, expressing a large pallet of emotions felt & lives by not less than 9 famous opera characters all impersonated in one single performance. Of course, since the soprano is meant to die in the end of almost every famous piece of the opera genre – because of political reasons, family issues, madly love or self sacrifice -, the end is quite predictable, but everything in between… spectacular, isn’t it?

Known for his collaborations with Theaters in Bari, Roma, Como, Bologna, Piacenza, the National Theater in Brno, the Festival in Bergen, the Theater Maribor and the Theater Bunkakai in Tokyo, but also for his teaching activity in Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Chech Republic, Ukraine and Japan, the stage director Sandro Santillo had the chance to meet more than once these women his show talks about and, above all, had the chance to approach and understand their stories, during his career, working on titles such as Tosca, Carmen, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Aida, La Bohème, Macbeth, Madama Butterfly, La Forza del Destino among many others.

Exactly as we could have imagined by reading the evening’s repertoire – covering roles from Donna Elvira to Lucia, from La Traviata to Tosca in less than a minut, from Aida to Norma & Butterfly -, it was hard to find a soprano able to perform 9 very different arias in only one hour. This detail has been confirmed for us talking to the organizer & manager of GAManagement. The Coreean soprano Cecilia Hyunah Son was the protagonist of this performance. She started her music studies at the Music High School in her hometown, Dae Jeon, where she also graduated the University of Hanyang di Seoul, continuing then the perfection of her vocal skills in Italy, at Niccolò Paganini Conservatory in Genova and in Detmold, Germany, at Hochscule fuer Musik. Winner of many contests, among which Concorso Internazionale di Canto Lirico di Arteincanto (2019), Concorso di Canto Lirico Internazionale di Roma Caput Mundi (2019) and Concorso Internazionale di Canto Lirico Enzo Sordello (2020), Cecilia Son’s repertoire contains roles as Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Contessa Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Cio-Ciò San (Madama Butterfly), a role she had her debut in at Arena Festival of Cuneo in August 2020. This gives us an idea on the development of her voice, both in terms of color and technique, fact that made her the right choice for this project, considering the repertoire mentioned above. Maestra Debora Mori carefully accompanies Cecilia, as a rescue net, on this difficult road among different music eras, different styles of very different composers and also different vocal typologies – a tough & risky experience for any artist, especially for one at the beginning of her flourishing career. We didn’t only assist at a performance, but at a rehearsal rigorously guided by Sandro Sandrillo, to whose requests the soprano responded promptly. Cecilia Son is definitely a very flexible young artist, a very much required quality for an artist nowadays. Despite this, I couldn’t help but constantly wonder how she will manage to adapt herself again and again to the abrupt fach changes from an aria to another.

The role of the “bridge” between a character an another – or of the intermezzo – was the actress Cristina Maine. She started her acting career in Rome, in 2003. From 2012 to 2017, Cristina she took part of Per sempre (2013, production Quelli di Grock, directed by Debora Virello), L’Opera da tre soldi (2014, production Quelli di Grock, directed by Fernanda Calati), Vuoto infernale (2019, directed by Riccardo Italiano) and now, Il Melodramma ovvero la disfatta della donna. Expressive and visibly passionate about her artistry, Cristina only missed a bit more of that femininity her text talks so loudly about.

An opera connoisseur would certainly be a bit confused in front of a soprano singing such a wide repertoire. It is definitely a controversial choice. This is why my opinion is that Il Melodramma ovvero la disfatta della donna should take place in non conventional spaces and to be dedicated to the large public, theater lovers who want to have a taste of the most famous opera pieces, in a show that talks about such a spread argument nowadays. This performance, well executed, could also accomplish another important goal: the one of being that one step which arouses curiosity towards this genre in those who have never been to an opera house.

Special thanks once again to Christian Sforza & GVManagement!

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