Malvina di Scozia by Giovanni Pacini
opera in concert
May 11, 7:30 pm & May 13, 7:30 pm
Christ and Saint Stephen’s Church
120 W 69th Street
New York, NY
Giovanni Pacini’s long-lost opera Malvina di Scozia receives its first performances in over 150 years in a new performing edition.
Hans Schellevis, Conductor and Editor
Judith Barnes, Director
Peter Szep, Chorus Master
Doug Han, Pianist and Musical Preparation
Thea Cook, Production Curator
Angela Leson as Malvina
Karolina Pilou as Morna
Benjamin Bloomfield as Arturo
Stefan Kirchgraber as Malcolm
Aram Tchobanian as Wortimer
Katya Gruzglina as Edwige
Javier Ortiz as Rodwaldo
and featuring THE VPR CHORUS
Malvina di Scozia was beset by obstacles at its 1851 Naples premiere. Pacini’s collaborator, the experienced librettist Salvadore Cammarano, was mortally ill. The opera’s subject matter, depicting the sordid behavior of the nobility, aroused unwanted attention from the royal censors of the King of Naples. The composer and librettist were forced to change the action to ancient Scotland for fear of offending the King. The lead tenor quit before the opening, and the opera had to be hastily rewritten for an unconventional cast of soprano, coloratura contralto, baritone and bass. Even with these challenges, Pacini created an opera so beautiful that a throng of admirers escorted the veteran composer home by torchlight after the premiere. Described at the premiere as “a wealth of harmony and melody…imagined and felt by a great master” the opera played to full houses for two months. But without a lead tenor part, and with Pacini’s star on the wane, it was revived only twice and vanished from the repertoire after 1862. It has not been heard in over 150 years.
Fast forward to Brooklyn, New York in 2016. Vertical Player Repertory has commissioned noted music editor and conductor Hans Schellevis to create a new performing edition of this intriguing opera. Working in collaboration with curator Thea Cook of the Donizetti Society, VPR will offer New York audiences a rare chance to hear Malvina di Scozia.
Soprano Angela Leson sings the role of Malvina, the ill-fated noblewoman who has borne two illegitimate children to Prince Arturo, sung by baritone Benjamin Bloomfield. His father, King Malcolm, is sung by bass Stefan Kirchgraber, and mezzo-soprano Karolina Pilou sings Morna, the Irish princess chosen by the King as Arturo’s consort. The King’s Iago-like advisor Wortimer will be portrayed by tenor Aram Tchobanian, Katya Gruzglina sings the role of Edwige, lady-in-waiting to Malvina, and Javier Ortiz sings the role of Rodwaldo, Captain of the King’s guard.
For a full history of the opera check out the article by Thea Cook