Arrangement, Digitalization and Publication of the Principal Operas Composed by Maestro Vittorio Gnecchi
Project location: ITALY, Milano
Project start date: March 2017 - Project end date: December 2019
Project number: 2017-075
Beneficiary: Associazione Musicale Vittorio Gnecchi
The last two decades of the XIX century and the first of the XX, in the the closing splendour of the era of Victoria, Queen and Empress and of Franz Josef, Emperor and King, were the peak of the European political, economic and cultural world dominance, to be remembered later as Stefan Zweigg's "World of yesterday".
They were also the years of a deep renewal of Opera music.
The tragedy of the First World War that closed that period, the following long painful, slow reconstruction, the disorder and poverty especially in the defeated German-speaking countries, that had been at the centre of that renewal, the dreams/nightmares of the communist and fascist revolutions with their limitations of intellectual liberties, all had a dramatic effect on the diffusion of that new music, more so than in any other field of cultural and artistic creation.
Performing Art has to be performed in order to exist: the investment in performances requires conditions of social and economic stability; in their absence only the works of already well known and successful composers have a chance of reaching the stage: as for the other ones, with the exception of rare, brave productions by theatres outside the main circuits and with a mind on experiment, there is only the hope that their works will reach the haven of an archive where they may eventually be rediscovered in happier times.
One of the most promising of such composers was Vittorio Gnecchi, born in Milan in 1876 who, after a first "La Virtù d'Amore", composed and performed at eighteen and a second “Cassandra” performed in 1905 under the direction of Arturo Toscanini, had created between 1907 and 1909 "La Rosiera" on a libretto by Carlo Zangarini. Unlike much of Maestro Gnecchi's work, before or after, this libretto is not inspired by ancient classical mythology or dramatic biblical themes: it is the operatic version of “On ne badine pas avec l'amour", (No trifling with Love) a famous play written in 1834 by Alfred de Musset. It is a tragic romance in three acts, very representative of the romantic literature of that time. It is the story of Perdicano who, on being rejected by his fiancée Camilla, out of spite seduces the naive Rosetta. The jealous Camilla then recaptures Perdicano's heart but Rosetta, unable to survive her grief, chooses to die.
"La Rosiera" was first performed on the 11th February 1927 at the Reubisches Theater of Gera, in Germany, conducted by Ralph Meyer: it was a triumph, with twenty-two curtain calls and many laurel wreaths. The Associazione has retrieved the poster and the original schetches by the great Leopoldo Metlicovitz. It was then given in both as opera and as concert in Berlin, Germany; Pilsen, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; Barmen, Germany; Aja, Holland; Los Angeles, United States; Paris, France; Philadelphia, United States; Stockholm, Sweden. The first performance in Italy was at the Teatro Municipale "Giuseppe Verdi" of Trieste in the season 1930-1931. Trieste was at the time the city in Italy closest to Middle-European culture and "La Rosiera" there was a major national artistic event.
At Vittorio Gnecchi's death in 1954 all his musical archives, including all the scores of "La Rosiera" were dispersed.
The Associazione Musicale Vittorio Gnecchi has undertaken the task of locating, collecting and ordering all material, especially the original musical scores that could be found, especially through the work and dedication of its Musical Director, Nicholaos Velissiotis. Of "La Rosiera" we were originally only in possession of a manuscript score and of a 1920 printed one. In both the Ouverture was missing but we succeeded to acquire it later.
In 2018, the Associazione signed an agreement with Universal-Ricordi that had been Vittorio Gnecchi's original publisher and still possessed some important material. Universal-Ricordi will remain the publisher of his music, underwriting all the printing costs of his musical material. In this framework, a team of musical experts has been created under the direction of Nicholaos Velissiotis, who has also just completed the supervision of two other important operas by Vittorio Gnecchi, Cassandra and Judith and can be considered the world's greatest expert of his music.
The work achieved has been primarily the unification of all existing scores settling all differences due to missing pieces, changes by conductors of different performances or by notes of Vittorio Gnecchi himself. It has been a massive work: 453 pages of music. All the music has also been digitalized to allow the preparation of all the different material necessary to any performance: the scores for piano and voice for use by the conductor, by each of the singers, by the choir and for all 31 different musical instruments, for a total of 1440 pages of music.
Now the Associazione has at last available all the material needed for the production of a most enjoyable opera. Several theatres and concert association worldwide have expressed their interest: Universal-Ricordi will start its promotion in September 2018.
The next task on the Associazione's programmes will be a similar work on "La Virtù d'Amore", his first opera in two acts on a libretto by M. Rossi Bozzotti.
All this will be an important new precious fragment in reconstructing the general panorama of that great, innovative period of Opera music.
The goal of this project, which received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation is to finally have the four major operas available in printed and digital format so that they can be performed in a worldwide context. All of this material will then be used to promote Maestro Gnecchi’s work in the music world, to market his works with the theatres where he is already very well known and in all major institutions worldwide. We are confident in the success of this procedure having already received a very good response with Cassandra and Judith operas.