“Che ne succederebbe,
se ognun de’ forestier si permettesse
di arrestar chicchesia!”
(Madama Fritz, Atto I Scena 8)

ONDADURTO TEATRO’s debut in the world of Opera!
The production of Pietro il Grande, Kzar delle Russie by Fondazione Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo (Italy) was debuted last November during the 5th edition of the Donizetti Opera Festival under the artistic direction of Francesco Micheli.

Only one year after his debut on the theatre scene, 22-year-old Gaetano Donizetti was entrusted by the S. Samuele theatre in Venice with an opera buffa (comic Opera) for the 1820 Carnival season.

The libretto by Gherardo Bevilacqua-Aldobrandini, a Marquis from Ferrara who was passionate about theatre and the arts, was the starting point of Donizetti’s work for this Opera buffa. Already acquainted with Gioacchino Rossini, for whom he had composed the libretto for Adina in 1818, the Marquis ventured into many disciplines, from scenography to poetry to drawing.

The works Bevilacqua-Aldobrandini drew inspiration from are the Italian translation of Le menuisier de Livonie, a comedy by Alexandre Duval published in Italy in 1816, and Il falegname di Livonia, an Opera by Giovanni Pacini, which debuted in 1819 at Teatro alla Scala of Milan, with the libretto composed by Felice Romani.

Based on Bevilacqua-Aldobrandini’s libretto, Donizetti composed a remarkable Opera, in which one can detect Rossini’s influence, as well as appreciate the most characteristic features of Donizetti’s personal style, even if still in their early form.

The modern staging proposed by ONDADURTO TEATRO proves interesting for its innovative scenic solutions as well as the musical choices – the use of original instruments from the time period, the genre of theatre (a comedy with historical figures), the focus on the author’s early works, highlighting Rossini’s influence and the foreshadowing of Donizetti’s artistic maturity in its embryonic stages.

An Opera buffa in two acts with libretto by Gherardo Bevilacqua-Aldobrandini
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
First performance: Teatro San Samuele, Venice, 26 December 1819
Critical edition by Maria Chiara Bertieri / Fondazione Donizetti

Conductor: Rinaldo Alessandrini
Direction, machinery and scenery by Ondadurto Teatro | Margò Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali
Costumes: K.B. Project
Lighting design: Marco Alba
Assistant director: Adriana Laespada

Orchestra: Gli originali
Choir: Donizetti Opera
Choirmaster: Fabio Tartari

Pietro il Grande: Roberto De Candia
Caterina: Loriana Castellano
Madama Fritz: Paola Gardina
Annetta Mazzeppa: Nina Solodovnikova
Carlo Scavronski: Francisco Brito
Ser Cuccupis: Marco Filippo Romano
Firman-Trombest: Tommaso Barea
Hondedisky: Marcello Nardis
Notaio: Stefano Gentili

Performers: Giorgia Conteduca, Daniele Fabbri, Valerio Marinaro, Lorenzo Pasquali, Giulia Vanni

Machinery: Lorenzo Pasquali, Massimo Carsetti
Construction of machinery: Fabio Pecchioli, Dario Vandelli
Construction of backdrops: F.M. Scenografie
Props: Teatro alla Scala
Make-up design: K.B. Project
Wigmaker: Audello Teatro

New production and set-up by Fondazione Teatro Donizetti of Bergamo

The Province of Livonia, Madama Fritz’s inn. A young carpenter, Carlo, is in love with Annetta, an orphan friend of Madama Fritz, who is the owner of the inn in Livonia.

Due to a fuss created by a quarrel with the local moneylender, Firman-Trombest, Carlo meets a couple, who are strangers visiting Livonia who happened to be passing by the inn at that moment. The man from the couple questions Carlo who gets irritated and replies with scorn and provocation at the stranger’s interrogation. The argument degenerates into a threat, which Carlo directs at the man, who he accuses of being too intrusive.

At this point, Ser Cuccupis, the pompous magistrate of Livonia, comes on the scene. Ser Cuccupis also gets into a fight with Carlo and he warns the carpenter that he will notify the Tsar of his misbehaviour. The male stranger intercedes and claims to be Menzikoff, a general of the Tsar. After this revelation, the magistrate controls his anger. Despite the stranger’s intervention, Carlo is imprisoned and left there, pending trial.

However, when Carlo was found as a child, he happened to have a letter with him that testifies that he is the son of Carlo Scavronski, a gentleman from Livonia who died serving the Kingdom of Sweden. The female stranger faints as the letter is being read, leaving all the bystanders wondering what has just happened.

In an attempt to free Carlo, Madama Fritz meets the magistrate Cuccupis at his house that evening. She tries to seduce him into releasing Carlo, but in the end, she is unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the two strangers learn that Scavronski had a sister and that she died during the plunder of Magdeburg. The two intercede again and all charges against Carlo are dropped. Out of gratitude, the carpenter introduces them to his beloved Annetta, but he begs them not to tell the Tsar about her, as she is the daughter of Ivan Mazzeppa, a well-known traitor of the Tsar.

The male stranger seems outraged upon learning about Annetta’s lineage, but, after discovering that Mazzeppa is already dead, he forgives the girl and gives his blessings to the couple.

Royal guard Hondedisky recognises the two strangers as Tsar Peter the Great and Tsarina Catherine. He then reveals their identity to the magistrate, who starts adulating the man he now knows to be the Tsar to try to get a promotion out of this accidental encounter.

Not only does the Tsar refuse to support Cuccupis, he also dismisses him from his position as magistrate, as well as confiscating all his possessions, which will serve to repay Carlo and Annetta for all the pain caused by the magistrate’s accusations and Carlo’s subsequent imprisonment.

At this point, the Tsarina recognizes Carlo as her long-lost brother, which explains the reason she fainted when hearing her father’s name in Carlo’s letter. Then, Tsar Peter confers a noble title on Carlo and agrees to his marriage to Annetta, which makes the population of Livonia burst into exclamations of joy.

The staging investigates the Russian artistic currents from the early twentieth century, a period when the country was going through a revolution, ideas were in turmoil and the old order had been overthrown. In order to create images that would not only be a reproduction of reality, but that could transmit its essence, inspiration was taken from the Russian artistic avant-garde of the time. The scenery and costumes are, therefore, the result of research that focused on basic geometric shapes, such as circles, squares, lines and rectangles, painted in a specific range of colours.

Scenography and stage machinery transform and warp the scene giving life to a sequence long shots where the space itself becomes a pulsating and dramatic element. Mobile structures of various shapes act as camera dollies that frame long shots, close-ups and details. It is the performers themselves – both actors and manipulators at the same time – who move these structures and create and destroy the various settings and planes of action.
The scene separates, spins and expands following the planes, lines, points of intersection and solid mass created by these structures, which give the impression of abstract architectural elements that define the layout of the space.

Closely bound to the dramaturgical structure of the Opera, video projections act as an integral part of the staging, along with music, singers and machinery.
The projected images invade different spaces, playing with the solids and voids of the surfaces: images are disassembled, distorted and multiplied.
Video projections become virtual scenarios in movement and constant transformation.

Each character carries their own dynamic, their own colour, their own shape. Their costumes capture the spectator’s imagination through surreal shapes and structures, while they also contribute to the organisation of the space.
Costumes become true, performative bodies, made up of volumes, lines, solid and void spaces, which intensify, deform and multiply the presence of the singers as if creating dancing architectural elements that enhance the work and highlight the research carried out on the dynamics of space.

Opéra Magazine – France
“[…] the staging is brilliant, designed by the Italian theatre company, Ondadurto Teatro, directed by Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali, on their debut in the world of Opera.”

Opera – United Kingdom
“The kaleidoscopic lighting, the scenery in perpetual motion, the deliberately eccentric costumes and the colour contrasts made a perfect match for the surreal mood of the plot. The result was a highly enjoyable show that was both subtle and comic at the same time.”

Forumopera – France
“Geometric shapes, circles, squares, lines and angles, polished surfaces, a distinct choice of vivid, sometimes even flashy, colours, projections of kaleidoscopic images which are created and transformed in the non-stop succession of spatial and temporal animations in tempo with the score […]. At the same time, we want to give tribute to [the movements] of the operators who, throughout the show, manoeuvre platforms intended to represent the various places of action. These complementary actions, which are always perfectly carried out, are a testament to the consistency and control of the directors of this complex show.”

Milano 24H – Italy
“The two directors received a plot […] to put on stage, but instead they gave the audience a fairy tale to dream about.”

Der Opernfreund – Germany
“This burlesque drama, which is musically very reminiscent of Rossini, is presented in brightly coloured clothes and, thanks to an audacious performing ensemble, it provides an entertaining evening.
[…] The scenography and costumes look as if Mondrian, Kandinsky and an Italian designer from the 1980s had come together to make an Opera, for the stage elements by Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali are so geometrically shaped and, at the same time, so colourful. […] The original and loudly patterned costumes by K.B. Project are a feast for the eyes and they fit wonderfully into the whole concept […].”

Codalario – Spain
“The mise-en-scène of the Roman theatre company, Ondadurto Teatro, under the direction of Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali, combines bright colours, flamboyant plasticity, with moving objects, geometric scenography (circles, triangles, squares, rectangles) and copious video projections.”

Corriere della Sera – Italy
“Their theatrical grammar is based on lights, colours, videos, performers and moving machinery, and costumes made of plastic or faux-leather. […] The company transforms and reassembles the stage space by moving metal machinery, built around the character to intensify their characteristics and used to enhance the plot development.”

Il Messaggero – Italy
“[…] a contemporary and most definitely ‘pop’ rendition, with bright colours and the delicate movements of Lorenzo Pasquali and his crew.”

Unfolding Roma – Italy
“As emphasised by the directors, the show “reflects the fresco of a timeless humanity”, so one should not be surprised by their desire to highlight the differences between the characters, “fueling the potential owned by each of them in order to give life to a fool’s dance”, which also emerges clearly with reference to the Russian artistic avant-garde and their use of geometry.”

Post.it – Italy
“[…] The company, founded in 2005 by Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali, creates its own unique interpretation of Pietro il Grande, Kzar delle Russie, thanks to the synergy between the different disciplines that characterise their theatrical language, the magnificent costumes by K.B. Project and the large machinery on stage – all of which now represents their very distinctive character.”

Corriere della Sera – Italy
“[…] the lively and colourful direction of Ondadurto Teatro (a.k.a. Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali) gives voice to the sparkling inventiveness of what appears to be a sort of Rossini set in the Po valley.”

Bergamo News – Italy
“Ondadurto’s style is unmistakable. To create the perfect fairy tale, the two directors have thought of everything, right down to the smallest detail: from directing to scenery, from lights to make-up and hair. As soon as the curtain opened, we entered an enchanted world where the rules of the real world are not valid. The story twirls around the stage as if performed by dancers; the scenography, is composed by geometric shapes and bright colours – clearly inspired by Malevich’s art – leads us to imagine what is not seen; the lively and moving colours rock our souls; the characters seem to be floating on stage.”

MTG Lirica – Italy

“[…] to produce a three-hour show, a particularly sparkling and witty director is needed, so it was an excellent choice to entrust the staging to the Ondadurto Teatro company, led by Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali.”

Connessi all’Opera – Italy
“The final applause, coming from the crowded theatre, is a testament to the success of this excellent production […].”

Opera Life – Italy
“The company, led by Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali, gives life to an interpretation of this Opera by Donizetti from 1819, characterised by a combination of different disciplines, costumes designed by K.B. Project and large stage machinery.”

GBOpera Magazine – Italy
“The enthusiasm shown by the audience confirms the impression of having stumbled upon a small masterpiece of stylistic harmony. […] The show by Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali – directors of the Ondadurto Teatro company – is an endless feast for the eyes […].”

I Teatri dell’Est – Italy
“Innovative and very funny in many ways, thanks to the kaleidoscopic movements of the lights created by Marco Alba and the scenery by Ondadurto Teatro (making their operatic debut here, a company that specialises in urban theatre), this show – which needs to be repeated and soon – brings the talents of directors Marco Paciotti and Lorenzo Pasquali to the fore. The costumes by K.B. Project, as well as the hairstyles, recall Sergio Tofano’s art deco style and his Signor Bonaventura – all created using a few moving elements and a handful of mimes, the results of which were loudly applauded by the young audience.”

Italia Notizie 24 – Italy
“This modern rendition is remarkable for more than one reason: the scenographic effectiveness and musical pleasure […].”

Scrissi d’Arte – Italy
“[…] this production, proposed as part of the #donizetti200 project, is like diving into a carnival, thanks to its lights, colourful costumes and moving projections, which give a new, comic dimension to the work.”

Ape Musicale – Italy
“This libretto, based on stereotypes and absurdity, is very well set in the context of geometrical shapes, bright colours, abstract projections, as well as the observant manners of a young man who will soon give rise to his genius, which are effectively represented in the action on stage, dressed in cutting-edge avant-garde and alienating abstraction.”

Belcanto e dintorni – Italy
“[…] a staging of great liveliness and movement, which offers the public a three-hour show of great charm and grace.”

Arte e Arti – Italy
“The result is a colourful show that takes the viewer into a setting inspired by the Russian artistic avant-garde. Focusing on geometric shapes and projections, with a minimalistic style, even the background stands out with iridescent colours.”

Sipario – Italy
“The result was a combination of colours and liveliness, which did not overwhelm the essence of the music […] and the libretto, accentuating the farcical aspects, but without overstepping the bounds with action that seemed extraneous to the narrative logic – rather, it helped clarify the internal dynamics of the plot.”

Le Salon Musical – Italy
“Judging by the result, it would seem that the two Roman directors […] have never done anything other than directing Operas, for their theatrical tempo coincides so much with that of the music, living in perfect harmony.”

Do you want to see more photos of the show? Go to our photos section, where you can get to know the actors, discover the scenes, and much more …

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