St Petersburg, Concert Hall

Beatrice di Tenda (concert performance)

opera by Vincenzo Bellini

Performed in Italian (will have synchronised Russian and supertitles)
This concert has been rescheduled from March 20, September 24, December 12, 2020

Music by Vincenzo Bellini
Libretto by Felice Romani

Musical Director: Larisa Gergieva
Concert Masters: Xenia Isaeva, Yuri Kokko, Anatoly Kuznetsov, Yana Rusinova
Chorus Master: Pavel Teplov


PERFORMERS:
Soloists of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers:
Filippo Maria Visconti: Grigory Chernetsov
Beatrice di Tenda: Antonina Vesenina
Agnese del Maino: Regina Rustamova
Orombello: Dmitry Voropaev

The Mariinsky Orchestra
Conductor: Federico Santi


Musical materials provided by SCHOTT MUSIC GmbH & Co, Mainz, Germany

SYNOPSIS

The action takes place in 1418 in the Castle of Binasco near Milan.

Background
Filippo Visconti, having married the Countess Beatrice di Tenda, widow of the condottiere Facino Cane, has taken over her rich estates. He soon tires of her, preferring the young and beautiful Agnese del Maino.

Act I
During festivities at the castle, Filippo announces to his courtiers that he is divorcing his wife. In the distance he hears Agnese’s voice, singing a tender romance, and he declares his own feelings. Agnese, however, feels a passion for Orombello. Having arranged a meeting at night using a forged letter, she learns of Orombello’s love for Beatrice. In vain does Orombello plead with her to do Beatrice no harm – the spurned woman vows to have her revenge. In the garden, surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting, Beatrice laments her fate. Filippo appears. He presents secret messages from his subjects and a letter from Orombello apparently found among her possessions – and he accuses Beatrice, who has been slandered by Agnese and Rizzardo, of double infidelity: she is an unfaithful wife and has instigated a rebellion. Suffering in a remote part of the castle, Beatrice prays for forgiveness before a statue of her first husband for her new marriage. She says “They all desert me now” before she hears Orombello who has just arrived replying “All? Not I.” On his knees he begs his beloved to flee and promises the support of his vassals in the struggle against the tyrant, but Beatrice rejects him and wishes to depart in order not to rouse any suspicion. At that very moment they are discovered by Filippo who has been brought by Agnese. His wife’s guilt has been proven. Beatrice and Orombello, who declares that the Duchess is innocent, are thrown into prison.

Act II
In the gallery facing the tribunal the courtiers announce that Orombello, unable to stand the torture, has perjured himself and Beatrice. In court the triumphant Filippo accuses his wife of infidelity and conspiracy. Orombello denies the confession forced from him, and the Duke threatens him and Beatrice with fresh torture. Appalled at the consequences of her perfidy, Agnese begs for mercy for the defendants, but Filippo remains relentless: the trial will continue. Having received no admission of guilt from Beatrice, the judges nevertheless sentence both her and Orombello to death, a sentence the Duke must sign. The calls of the people at the castle walls to free Beatrice force Filippo to surmount any final hesitation. He signs the document, insisting that the sentence is being carried out not at his order but because of his wife’s dishonour. Next to the prison, friends in mourning await the execution of Beatrice who has no wish to forgive the repentant Agnese but, hearing Orombello’s voice in supplication, she softens. Experiencing no fear at worldly suffering, in a state of enlightenment Beatrice follows the soldiers to her execution.

About the Concert

Beatrice di Tenda was to be Bellini's penultimate opera – following Norma and preceding I puritani. Just why this masterpiece should have remained in the shadows of other opuses by Bellini seems, at first glance, to be quite inexplicable: euphonious music, a magnificent tragic image of a defamed sufferer at its heart, and the plot will not disappoint those who attend the theatre to experience powerful emotions. The core conflict unfolds between husband and wife – Filippo Visconti, Duke of Milan, (baritone) and his wife Beatrice di Tenda (soprano). Beatrice is twenty years her husband's senior and, as he sees it, a hindrance to his happiness – she is impeding a union with his new beloved. The morally irreproachable female protagonist becomes entangled in a perfidiously woven web and perishes, before her death magnanimously forgiving those guilty of the tragedy. This couple is joined by yet another "former" couple: the Court lady Agnese (mezzo-soprano) and Orombello, a gentleman from Ventimiglia (tenor). There is no mutual love in the opera: Filippo loves Agnese, Agnese loves Orombello, Orombello loves Beatrice and Beatrice loves her late husband. And so here the traditional love duet of concord is not possible: the two duets in Act I are arguments. The lavish aria of the prima donna announcing her entrance features in the third scene of Act I. This portrays the character's bitter contemplation of an enslaved people and of her despotic husband – sheer enjoyment for any opera-lover, with so many enchanting, beautiful coloratura elements to this scene. Beatrice remains the focus of attention right up until the very end, she is the star, and she is the diamond that flaunts its every facet. And yet neither are the wicked antagonists written in a trivial manner: Agnese is repentant, while Filippo, before confirming the death penalty, is tormented by doubts.

Despite the cruelty within the subject, the opera's music is surprisingly bright. Here it is major tonalities, melodious harmonies, timbres that caress the ears and, of course, pliant and charming melodies that reign supreme: in a word, Italian bel canto of the highest order. Bellini remarked that his Beatrice was "worthy of its sisters"; and in that regard, without any doubt whatsoever, he was absolutely in the right. Khristina Batyushina


Age category 6+

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