What do you get when a savvy conductor from Perth, a hot-blooded director from Naples, a buoyant artist from Torino, and a sumptuous costume maker from Rome decide to bring an ancient Venetian opera to life? In this book the journalist Allison Zurfluh teems up with the award-winning photographer Michel Juvet to find out, following the long creative process that transformed manuscript into modern-day stage production.
Veremonda, l’Amazzone di Aragona is a seventeenth century opera by Francesco Cavalli that had gone unperformed for nearly 400 years. Allison and Michel travel to Venice to follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest Baroque composers in history, and to explore the conductor Aaron Carpenè’s work with the original score. Magic begins happening under the passionate direction Stefano Vizioli, and takes further shape in Ugo Nespolo's unique studio in Turin where the set and costume designs are conceived. A stop at Luigi Piccolo's sartoria in Rome opens doors into a whimsical world as writer and photographer observe master tailors at work. In a culminating voyage, the narrators cross the Atlantic to Charleston, South Carolina, where Veremonda finally resurrects as a Spoleto Festival USA premiere.
If you think opera is for the stoic and stodgy, it might be time to reconsider.
Aaron Carpenè is an off-centre Australian conductor, specialist, and soloist keyboard interpreter of early music. He is known for spearheading dicey productions such as OperaBhutan, a staging of George Frideric Handel’s ‘Acis and Galatea’, which debuted in the eastern Himalayan kingdom before going to Texas earlier this year in a signature celebration of intercultural operatic performance. Despite initial scepticism over bringing opera where no opera had gone before, the project that combined an 18th century masque with traditional Bhutanese music, dance, and visuals garnered international acclaim. www.aaroncarpene.com
Stefano Vizioli has turned out performances across the USA that include Philadelphia, Chicago, and Santa Fe; and in cities across Europe and Asia. His production of Rossini’s ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’ was conducted by the late and legendary Italian conductor, Claudio Abbado at the Ferrara Musica Festival; his interpretation of Donizetti’s ‘Don Pasquale’ by Riccardo Muti at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. www.stefanovizioli.it
Ugo Nespolo is a Pop-Art-inspired painter and sculptor with 20 films under his belt. The ‘Andy Warhol of Italy’ has exhibited in exclusive environments around the world, such as the MoMA in New York City and Beaubourg in Paris. Among his notable forays into the applied arts are a 1983 Azzurra Italiana poster for America’s Cup, and a 2012 limited-edition advertising campaign for Campari. He designed a Swatch for Swatch Group Ltd in 1994, and collaborated with the Swiss behemoth at Baselworld. www.nespolo.com
Luigino Piccolo of Farani Sartoria Teatrale. With two Oscars among their laurels for Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Federico Fellini’s Casanova (1977) - both Danilo Donati creations - the extravagant atelier has an impressive history in design that touches on everything from theatre to opera to film. The sartoria designed for the French blockbuster TV series ‘Les Borgia’, and did Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film ‘Marie Antoinette’; and for Milan Expo 2015, Piccolo has created the costumes for La Scala-commissioned opera 'CO2' by Giorgio Battistelli. www.farani.it