The Veremonda Resurrection: Cavalli’s Opera Returns From Oblivion
Pietro Francesco Caletti-Bruni, better known as Francesco Cavalli (the surname of his patron Federico Cavalli), was an Italian Baroque composer, who became influential in the rising genre of public opera in mid-17th-century Venice. In his Veremonda, Francesco Cavalli portrays the charismatic Amazon Queen, during the conflict between the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon and the Moors.
The Veremonda Resurrection tells the story — through the witticism of journalist Allison Zurfluh and the photos of award-winning photographer Michel Juvet — of how this opera was revived. In 2015 conductor Aaron Carpenè and director Stefano Vizioli worked thoroughly to unearth and reconstruct Cavalli’s oeuvre for the Spoleto Festival USA.
Veremonda first premiered in January of 1652 during the Carnival season in Venice, at the Teatro San Giovanni e Paolo, and was newly represented on December of 1652, at the Nuovo Teatro del Palazzo Reale in Naples. It took 350 years for Veremonda to return to the stage, thanks to the Carpenè-Vizioli “resurrection” of the original manuscript. The task was challenging, since the music score featured only the bass line and vocal parts, as well as some treble lines for unspecified instruments.
In The Veremonda Resurrection (published by Gli Ori Editori), Allison Zurfluh and Michel Juvet combined their talents to account the entire resuscitation of this masterpiece; from the recovery of the obscure operatic manuscript in the Marciana Library of Venice, to the extraordinary work re-orchestrating the original score. Maestro Aaron Carpenè combined traditional instruments, such as harpsichords, lutes, and theorbos, with castanets, zills and cevgens, which were fit for the opera’s setting. Stefano Vizioli’s mise-en-scène enhanced the magic, as he directed the performers (wearing the whimsical costumes by Luigi Piccolo made in his Roman sartoria), who wandered with mystery and passion through the kaleidoscopic set, designed by famed artist Ugo Nespolo from Turin.
Thusly, The Veremonda Resurrection gives opera lovers the chance to meet the entire team that breathes new life into this operatic gem. The upbeat narrative, illustrated with compelling photographs, captures the hidden behaviors and emotions of the artistic family working to bring Veremonda back to her deserved glory.
The book has an exceptional curator: Paola Gribaudo is one of the world’s most dedicated editors, whose publishing skills actually run in the family. She has worked with numerous companies, and The Veremonda Resurrection marks her 997th publication.
The first presentation of the book couldn’t occur in a more fitting venue: the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, where the original manuscript was found. Maurizio Messina, director of the prestigious library located in the Renaissance Venetian Palazzo, opened the press conference on June 22nd. Historian Elisabetta Sciarra described Francesco Cavalli’s original score, with his notes, scribbles and corrections — that in this special occasion was exhibited to the public.
A reception followed, on the secluded and enchanting Santa Cristina Island, hidden in the Venetian lagoon. The aperitif upon this enchanting isle was catered by Bisol Prosecco and Mauro Stoppa, while Baroque music — performed by Andrea De Carlo, Nora Tabbush, Pieter Theuns, Simone Vallerotonda — entertained guests with lutes and theorbos. The delightful Sandra and René Deutsch gracefully welcomed visitors on the Ammiana Resort Island, a retreat where you may sojourn and reconnect with nature, through yoga, wildlife viewing, and is just a boat-ride away from the hustle and bustle of La Serenissima.
The Veremonda Resurrection book tour, continued in Rome on June 27th, within the prestigious Sapienza Atheneum, and in Naples on June 28th, at the eminent San Pietro Conservatory of Music.
The publication will be available at the Museo Correr bookshop in St. Mark’s Square, and will soon arrive on Amazon. The next stops of the book tour are in Turin on September 7th, at Fondazione Accorsi, and most probably in Milan during autumn of this year. Some of the gift shops of Italy’s most prestigious opera houses might welcome this publication, and many more locations are sure to greet the tale about Queen Veremonda’s resuscitation. Allison’s exquisite interviewing dexterity, with Michel Juvet’s talent in capturing momentum through his lens, render the alchemy of an opera crew reawakening a magnum opus.