First performance 27 February 1886, Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Have you ever wondered what happened, operatically speaking, to Alexandre Dumas fils, the author of La Dame aux Camélias immortalised in Verdi’s La traviata? It might seem surprising that the writer hardly featured on the operatic stage again, but in fact, his obscure drama Les Danicheff resurfaced (albeit in a roundabout fashion) as the source for Alfredo Catalani’s fourth opera, Edmea (1886). As a young composer, Catalani (1854–1893) was clearly eyeing up Verdi’s prowess and having approached Verdi’s librettist Arrigo Boito (himself a composer too) unsuccessfully, he turned to Antonio Ghislanzoni, still basking in the glow some 15 years earlier of Aida. What Ghislanzoni gave him, however, was a ready-made libretto that for reasons unknown had never been set but had been written a few years earlier for the composer Salvatore Auteri-Manzocchi.
Turning Les Danicheff into Edmea involved radical shifts of time and place, but the story as eventually set by Catalani tells of a young woman driven mad by love – Edmea had been forced by her adoptive father, a Count, to marry against her will when she was in love with Oberto, son of her aristocratic guardian. An ultimate happy end does not preclude a mad scene for Edmea, one of the most successful parts of the opera, which seems to have been designed by Ghislanzoni with an eye on the then-recent success of Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet.
Edmea enjoyed some success at its premiere at La Scala in 1886. When it was repeated later the same year in a revised version in Turin, the conductor was the 20-year-old Arturo Toscanini. This marked the start of a friendship between the composer and conductor, who even named his daughter after the heroine of Catalani’s next and final opera, La Wally, and who continued to champion his music after the composer’s tragically early death. Although Edmea was quickly overshadowed by the popularity of La Wally, its lively dramatic style and a score full of bold and colourful numbers – Catalani’s skills as an orchestrator were considerable – make it an opera worth rediscovering.
Previous Engagements: Conductor (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mendelssohn, Teatro Filarmonico – Verona; Aida, Verdi, Opera Lombardia; Falstaff, Verdi, Grange Festival).
Forthcoming Engagements: Conductor (Manon Lescaut, Puccini, Grange Festival; Le villi, Puccini, Opera Holland Park; Margot la rouge, Delius, Opera Holland Park).
Previous Engagements: Director (Die Walküre, Wagner, Opera National de Bordeaux, Iceland Opera; Semele, Handel, Shanghai International Arts Festival; The Rape of Lucretia, Britten, Grimeborn Festival).
Forthcoming Engagements: Director (Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Opera Holland Park; The Barber of Seville, Rossini, Clonter Opera; Die Walküre, Wagner, Grimeborn Festival).
Set & Costume Designer
Previous Engagements: Set and Costume Designer (Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë in an adaptation by Andy Sheridan, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; Manon, Puccini, Staatstheater Mainz), Set Designer (Code Noir, Louis Clapisson, Les Paladins).
Forthcoming Engagements: Set and Costume designer (La bohème, Puccini, Bielefeld Opera; O Island / Ivy Tiller, Nina Sega/ Bea Roberts, Royal Shakespeare Company).
Previously at WFO: Lighting Designer (Medea, Margherita, Risurrezione, 2017).
Previous Engagements: Lighting Designer (Susanna, Handel, Royal Opera House; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Britten, Deutsche Oper Berlin; La favorite, Donizetti, Houston Grand Opera).
Anne Sophie Duprels
Il conte di Leitmeritz
Il barone di Waldek
Previous Engagements: Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni, Mozart, Theatre Rudolstadt), Dr S (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Nyman, Opera Collective Ireland), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Lyric Opera Studio Weimar).