(Catania, 3 Nov. 1801 – Paris, 23 Sept. 1835)
Bellini’s opera success was based in his poetic sense formed in (long) expressive melodies and exquisite text-setting. As an absolute leading figure of early 19th-century opera he acted as the rightful heir of the belcanto tradition.
Born into a musical family he soon showed evident signs of great talent. Reportedly he was already singing before he reached 2 years of age, conducting with 3, playing piano at 5 and composing at 6. At 18 the Catania City Council recognized his talent by getting him a scholarship to the Naples Conservatory, bastion of the great Italian vocal writing tradition.
He eventually finished his studies with a first successful stage production: Adelson e Salvini (1825). This won him the opportunity to write a second opera for the prestigious Teatro San Carlo in Naples: Bianca e Fernando (1826). Its success managed to attract the attention of the influential impresario D. Barbaja (1777-1841) who, in turn, prompted the composer on his way to the Teatro alla Scala di Milano with I Pirata (1827).
Bianca e Fernando and Bianca e Gernando: a challenging yet promising career beginning for the young Bellini.
After the success of his first major work, the student opera Adelson e Selvini (1825) in the San Sebastiano Conservatory in Naples, Bellini obtained the chance to present a new opera in the prestigious San Carlo, a remarkable career beginning and a very promising first step. Nonetheless this wasn’t exempt of difficulties.
Choosing to collaborate with the young librettist D. Gillardoni (who would later work with G. Donizetti) on the successful play Bianca e Fernando alla tomba di Carlo IV, duca di Agrigento (1820) by C. Roti, he had put together the two-act opera Bianca e Fernando, scheduled for January of 1826.
Because this coincided with the anniversary of recently deceased king Ferdinando I, censors had the title changed to Bianca e Gernando, for court etiquette reasons. Only two years later was the opera (re)named Bianca e Fernando for the presentation in Genoa (1828).
Set in the 15th century, the opera deals with the eternal theme of power struggle: Fernando comes home to Agrigento, Sicily, from exile with the mission to avenge his father and save his sister (Bianca) from the usurper Filippo. He devises a bold plan to enlist under the enemy’s army, gain his confidence and then wait for the right moment for revenge… Fight for power, attempted murders, royal entrances, big choirs, suspense moments and poetic art. These are the main ingredients of this truly romantic opera that paved Bellini the way to fame.
Sketch and detail of the scenery
Peter George and Ineke working on Bianca’s dress and a detail from a male choir outfit.
Peter George d’Angelino Tap is invited by Opera St. Moritz to co-prepare Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Bianca e Fernando, with the première to take place in Maloja, Switzerland, on June 25th. Peter George is already at work in his workshop, to which he added a new space, with all aspects of projecting and staging the opera: dramaturgy, set design, light design, scenery, costume design, tailoring, research and writing.
Both the conceptual and practical aspects of production are taken by Peter George as a work of art. The same approach was followed for the custom design of previous productions like Le Nozze di Figaro and Anna Bolena. The creativity process remains true to its philosophy of crossing poetry, music and the figurative arts. These are, truly, the sources of inspiration.
The Peter George d’Angelino Tap blog is now adding weekly updates for the new Peter George d`Angelino Tap opera production of Vincenzo Bellini’s (1801-1835) opera Bianca e Fernando to take place in Switzerland during the summer.
Together with Opera St. Moritz it will provide pictures and short texts, including interviews, relating both the production and history of Bianca e Fernando up until the première in June 25th in Maloja, Switzerland.
The aim is to share the passion of opera with easy to follow comprehensive information, continuous and closer look behind the scenes of the production, acquaintance with its protagonists as well as accessing the opera’s cultural and historical background.
It will also join together pertinent points of view, historical accurate facts and general curiosities, besides practical information on location, accommodation and tickets.