On 23rd March Radio3 Suite (at 8.30 p.m.) will broadcast Giorgio Battistelli’s Divorzio all’italiana, “a musical scenario for the twilight of the family”. The libretto is written by Battistelli himself and loosely based on the screenplay of the film by Pietro Germi, Alfredo Giannetti and Ennio De Concini. The world premiere of the opera, commissioned by the Opera national de Lorraine, took place on 30th September, 2008 at the Opera national in Nancy (France). The Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy and the Choeur de l'Opéra national de Lorraine is conducted by Daniel Kawka. The singers include Albert Bonnema (Fefè), Bruno Praticò (Rosalia), Theodora Georghiu (Angela) and Bernhard Landauer (Carmelo Patanè).
The film Divorce, Italian Style, shot in 1961 by the director Pietro Germi, has inspired a new opera by Giorgio Battistelli. In fact, the work even borrows its title from this famous darkly comic masterpiece of the Italian film world. The libretto of Divorzio all’italiana offers “a musical scenario for the twilight of the family” in 23 scenes. The story is set in the torrid and drowsy atmosphere of a sun-baked Sicily, with its all-pervasive smell of freshly-ground coffee and Sicilian lemons. Alternating between the farcical and the poignant, it tells of the love of Don Sandrino Ferraù, known as Fefè, for his young and beautiful cousin Angela (the only character in the opera to be assigned a female voice; the rest of the cast are male). Angela reciprocates Fefè’s feelings but the fulfillment of their happiness has one obstacle: Rosalia, Fefè’s wife (played in the opera by a baritone). Rosalia is neither fair of face nor fair of character; she is pathologically jealous and stifles the baron with her petulant demands. But circumstances change for the two lovers as a result of an unexpected turn of events: the appearance in Barrafranca of the painter Carmelo Patanè, a former admirer of Rosalia. Fefè concocts innumerable strategies to engineer his wife falling into the arms of Carmelo, and, when he finally succeeds, he breaks in on the adulterers and kills his wife. This textbook case of a crime of passion is publicly denounced by Carmelo’s wife, Immacolata Patanè, but met with unanimous forgiveness on the part of the townsfolk: Fefè is now able to realize his dream and take his beloved Angela to the altar. But during the actual wedding itself, while Fefè is boasting of the 25-year age difference between himself and his young bride, Angela succumbs to the charms of the official photographer.