and The School District of Philadelphia
A Family Guide to
Pennsylvania’s standards in education call for students to show what they know and are able to do and children need to share what they have discovered or learned. Thus, the title of our program is Sounds of Learning™. It reflects our belief that children must be actively engaged in sharing ideas. The Sounds of Learning™ workbook and teacher guide will integrate with local core literacy curriculum in many ways. Just as opera is a uniquely integrated art, combining orchestra, voice, literature, drama, and dance, Sounds of Learning™ is an interdisciplinary and student-centered program. The goal of the Active Learning sections is to have your children engaged in the process of self-teaching. They will be able to show how they have gained insights into their learning by drawing, writing, and discussing the issues most relevant to them. In this way, students demonstrate what they can do with what they know. We believe the family is the most important foundation to learning. Let your kitchen table become a classroom where your children can build their knowledge of opera and the humanities. As you join in the teaching and learning process with your children, watch their eyes sparkle. Opera is a communal celebration, so too should be your children’s education. In reading the libretto, we suggest that you and your family members take turns reading particular roles. Dr. Ellen Winner of Harvard’s Project Zero found that: “drama helps to build verbal skills that transfer to new materials;” helps students in “reading readiness and achievement;” and “oral and written language development.” (Journal of Aesthetic Education, v34, #3/4, Fall/Winter, 2000.) In preparing for the opera, we suggest you purchase one of EMI’s excellent audio or video recordings of this opera. We are grateful to EMI for offering us their libretti for use in our program. Together, we hope to build future audiences for, and performers of, the arts.
Goals and Objectives of Sounds of Learning™ • • • • • •
Improve literacy rates by using the opera’s libretto to teach courses across the curriculum Understand the plot, characters, and their motivations Learn something about the composer, and others involved in writing the opera Know something of the historic and social context of the story Know some key musical elements, recognize certain melodies, differentiate between voices Understand the role music plays by expressing emotions and heightening the dramatic experience • Understand the various elements of producing opera and the functions of those involved; e.g. conductor, director, set designer, technical crew, etc. • Develop the ability to make judgments about the opera, production, and performance. • Relate incidents in the opera to those of the present day
Best Practices in Arts Education is sponsored by Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Contents Opera 101: Getting Ready for the Opera 2 4 5 6 7
A Brief History of Western Opera Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Opera Etiquette 101 There’s a Place for You at Settlement Music School Opera - Online!
Relating Opera to History: The Culture Connection 8 9 10 12 14
The Man Behind the Music: Giacomo Puccini French Impressionist Maurice Ravel What in the World? A Timeline of Important Events Making Magic Onstage Seeing between the Lines: The Impressionists
15 16 24
L’enfant/Schicchi Plot Synopses L’enfant et les sortilèges Libretto Gianni Schicchi Libretto
Devilish Inspiration: Dante’s Divine Comedy Who was Gianni Schicchi?
Check out our website for additional content! Here you’ll find more information on the opera, its themes, lessons, and links to even more fascinating material. See page 7 for more details.
A Brief History of
Theatrical performances that use music, song and dance to tell a story can be found in many cultures. Opera is just one example of music drama. In its 400-year history each opera has been shaped by the times in which it was created and tells us much about those who participated in the art form as writers, composers, performers, and audience members. The first works to be called operas were created in Italy at the end of the sixteenth century. They were inspired by a group of intellectuals known as the Camerata who, like many thinkers of their time in the late Renaissance, admired the culture of the ancient Greeks. They proposed the invention of a new type of musical theater that would imitate Greek drama’s use of music. The result was a series of operas based on Greek myths, starting with Dafne by Jacopo Peri in 1598. The most famous work of this early period is Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607), based on the myth of Orpheus. These early operas had all the basic elements that we associate with opera today, including songs, instrumental accompaniments, dance, costumes, and scenery.
These early operas were performed in the courts of Italian noblemen, but soon opera became Claudio Monteverdi popular with the general public. 1567-1643 Europe at the time had a growing middle class with a taste for spectacular entertainment. As opera’s popularity grew, so did the complexity of operas and the level of spectacle. Many opera houses had elaborate machinery that could be used to create special effects such as flying actors and crumbling buildings. There was much debate about whether an excess of visual elements in opera detracted from the quality of the music and drama. Some people even worried that too much comedy in opera could lead to immorality among the public! During the period from about 1600 to 1750, the Baroque period in music, Italian opera spread across Europe. In fact the Italian style of opera was so popular that even though other countries and regions often had their own traditions of musical drama, the Italian form was usually preferred. George Frederick Handel was a German-born composer who lived and worked in England, but his operas such as Julius Caesar (1724) were in the Italian language and used an Italian style of music. The only nation to develop a national tradition to
A tense scene from Act II of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. (l-r: bass Richard Bernstein, baritone Simone Alberghini and sopranos Christine Brandes and Mary Dunleavy.)
Bass Kevin Glavin gets a close shave from baritone Roberto DeCandia in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.
rival the Italian was France, where operas often included ballets inserted into the story. JeanBaptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau are the most famous French Baroque opera composers. By the middle of the seventeenth century Europe was changing. The growing middle class was more influential than ever, and people were starting to talk about new forms of government and organization in society. Soon the American and French Revolutions (1776 and 1789) would seek to establish the first modern democracies. Music was changing, too. Composers abandoned the Baroque era’s complicated musical style and began to write simpler music with more expressive melodies. Opera composers could write melodies that allowed characters to express their thoughts and feelings more believably. One of the first operas to use this new style was Cristoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1762). With the new democratic sentiments came interest in operas about common people in familiar settings, rather than stories from ancient mythology. A good example is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786), in which a servant outsmarts a count. Several of Mozart’s operas remain among the most popular today. They include Figaro, Don Giovanni (1788), Così fan tutte (1790), and The Magic Flute (1791). In the nineteenth century operas continued to grow more diverse in their subject matter, forms, and national styles. The Italian tradition continued in the bel canto movement. Operas written in this style, which means “beautiful singing”, included arias with intricate ornamentation, or combinations of fast notes, in the melodies. The most famous bel canto composers are Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and Gioacchino Rossini, whose The Barber of Seville (1816) is one of the most beloved comic operas.
Later in the century the Romantic Movement led many composers to take an interest their national identities. As a result, operas in languages other than Italian became more common, and new works often reflected pride in a country’s people, history and folklore. Among the operas that show the growth of national traditions are Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz (Germany, 1821), Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmilla (Russia, 1842) and Georges Bizet’s Carmen (France, 1875). In Italy Giuseppe Verdi composed in a bold, direct style, and his operas, such as Nabucco and Macbeth, often included elements of nationalism. In Germany Richard Wagner took the Romantic style to the extreme in an ambitious series of operas known collectively as The Ring of the Nibelung (1876) based on Norse mythology. In the twentieth century opera became even more diversified and experimental, to the point that it sometimes became difficult to distinguish it from other forms of musical theater. Some composers such as Giacomo Puccini (La bohème, 1896), Claude Debussy (Pelléas et Mélisande, 1902), Richard Strauss (Salome, 1905), and Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes, 1945) continued to write operas that were similar in many ways to those of the nineteenth century. Others, horrified by the destructive effects of World War I (1914-1919) and other aspects of modern life, created works with radically experimental and dissonant music. These operas often explored topics that were either disturbing (Wozzeck by Alban Berg, 1925) or absurdist (The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky, 1951). American opera also came into its own in this century, beginning with George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935) which incorporated jazz and blues styles of music. In the latter part of the century a repetitive and hypnotic style known as minimalism was exemplified in Phillip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach (1976), a piece that would hardly be recognized as an opera by earlier standards. The late twentieth century even saw a return to some of the traits of Romantic opera in works such as John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles (1991). Today, opera is a living art form in which both new works and those by composers of the past continue to be performed. It remains to be seen what the future of opera will be, but if history is any indication, it will be shaped by the creativity of librettists, composers and other artists responding the changing times in which they live.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1756-1791
Academy of Music
You will attend the opera at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, the country’s oldest grand opera house still used for its original purpose - performing opera! It is a very grand opera house with a huge chandelier and four levels. Its design was based on the famous La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy. Finding the money to build an opera house in Philadelphia was difficult, but enough money was raised by 1854. On October 13th a plot of land was bought on the corner of Broad and Locust Streets to build the opera house. Fifteen architects entered a competition to see who would design the Academy in the fall of 1854. On February 12, 1855 Gustav Rungé and Napoleon le Brun won the contest, which included a $400 prize. Within four months the ground-breaking took place. The project was so important that President Franklin Pierce, along with the governor and mayor, laid the cornerstone on July 26, 1855. The Academy opened on January 26, 1857 with a Grand Ball and Promenade Concert. The first opera presented in the brand new opera house was Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore on February 25, 1857. Charles Gounod’s opera Faust had its American premiere here on November 18, 1863. On February 14, 1907, Madama Butterfly premiered to “emphatic success” with its composer, Giacomo Puccini, in attendance. The Academy of Music’s restored chandelier. Photo by Michael Bolton
Numerous presidents have visited the Academy, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon. Prince Charles of Wales visited the Academy in 2007. Thousands of world-famous performers have appeared on its stage, such as Peter Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Gershwin, Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscanini, Marian Anderson, Maria Callas, and Luciano Pavarotti. The Academy was made a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1963. Since then, a few changes have been made to the structure. The “Twenty-First Century Project”, begun in 1996, replaced the stage floor, rigging system, and restored the historic ceiling. During 2008 the famous chandelier was rebuilt to how it looked in 1857. All of these renovations have helped the Academy remain as grand as ever. We hope you find it grand as well!
Academy Facts ›
The auditorium seats 2,897; 14 columns support the Academy’s tiers; and the auditorium is encased within a three foot thick solid brick wall.
The Academy Chandelier is 25 feet high, 50 feet in circumference, almost 17 feet in diameter, and 3,500 pounds in weight. It has 23,000 crystals on it, which, if laid out, could reach from Broad Street to Rittenhouse Square and back.
The red and gold pattern on the Academy’s stage curtain simulates that of a pineapple, a Victorian-era symbol for “welcome.”
The first-ever indoor football game was held on the Academy’s Parquet level on March 7, 1889 between University of Pennsylvania and Riverton Club of Princeton. At halftime, tug-of-war matches were held as entertainment.
1,600 people attended the first ever motion picture screening on February 5, 1870. The audience saw a couple dancing, a gymnastics routine and more during the silent film.
Air conditioning was installed in the theatre 1959.
There was no elevator for the general public in the Academy until 1990!
For more information on the Academy of Music, go to the library and take out Within These Walls, by John Francis Marion or go online to www.academyofmusic.org.
Opera Etiquette 101 There’s nothing quite as exciting as attending the opera in a beautiful theater like the Academy of Music. You will attending the opera’s final dress rehearsal, the last chance for the artists to rehearse before opening night. The opera will be run through without a pause, just like a performance. In the center of the floor level of the Academy, the Parquet Level, you’ll notice computer monitors on a large table. The production team sits here to take notes and talk via headset with the many people backstage who make operatic magic happen. Unlike actors on television or in the movies, performers onstage are very aware of the audience. They want to share their love of performing with you. Everything you do in the audience affects what happens on stage. Because this is a working rehearsal, please refrain from talking. All of the artists need to concentrate on fine-tuning the production. You can show them how much you appreciate their work and the opportunity to come to the rehearsal by being as quiet as possible. So, please refrain from talking out of respect for the cast, musicians, the entire production team, and everyone in the theater. Give the artists and the production your full attention!
Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts so that everyone in the theater can enjoy the opera:
Please Do... • Applaud after the arias; you can shout “Bravo!” for the men and “Brava!” for the women. • Enter and exit the theater in an orderly fashion. • Please use the bathrooms before the rehearsal begins or at intermission. • Be careful in the auditorium! Because the theatre is 150 years old, it’s not necessarily designed for modern conveniences. • Turn off your cell phones and all electronic devices. • Enjoy the rehearsal. You’ve worked too hard preparing for the rehearsal not to!
ACTIVE LEARNING The picture on this page shows several patrons and famous opera characters on their way to attend an opera in the Academy of Music. Now picture yourself in their shoes. On a separate piece of paper, write a few words on what you think the trip to the opera will be like. You may want to mention coming into Philadelphia, visiting the Academy of Music, attending the opera. What will you wear? How will you and your classmates act? At what time will you meet your classmates? How may classmates will attend? Will you have a special dinner before the opera? If so, where? Will the opera be exciting and entertaining? Share your thoughts here and compare your stories with your classmates.
Don’t Forget... • Food, gum and beverages are not allowed inside the Academy of Music. • Photographs or video footage may not be taken during the performance. • No talking or whispering during the rehearsal. • No shoving, jumping, running, or spitting in the Academy of Music. • Please obey the Academy of Music ushers and staff. • Keep all objects to yourself. If you throw something, you might hurt someone and cause a disruption in rehearsal. It is grounds for removal from the auditorium. • MAKE YOUR SCHOOL PROUD!
There’s a Place for You at
Settlement Music School
Kevin Eubanks, Hollywood film composer Alex North, Star Wars director Irv Kershner, numerous members of The Philadelphia Orchestra (as well as musicians in orchestras around the country). Even scientist Albert Einstein was a Settlement Music School student! In fact, studies show that science and music use similar principles—so music lessons may help your math skills, too.
Famous Philadelphia-born actor Kevin Bacon took lessons at Settlement Music School. You can, too!
Settlement Music School is a community arts school that offers programs and activities in music, voice, dance and the related arts to help those interested achieve their greatest potential.
Settlement is dedicated to a belief that people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and financial circumstances deserve and will benefit from the high quality programs that Settlement offers. Founded in 1908, the School began when two young volunteer teachers offered piano lessons for a nickel. The response was so huge they raised the price to a dime to hire more teachers. A full program of instruction soon took shape, encompassing all instruments and voice and taught by professionals, including members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Today, Settlement’s six branches reach all over Philadelphia and serve more than 9,000 pupils on site and another 6,000 through outreach programs. Students from every zip code in Philadelphia and the eight surrounding counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey attend Settlement. The school has four Philadelphia branches (West Philadelphia, Germantown, KardonNortheast, and the original South Philadelphia school - the Mary Louise Curtis branch in Queen Village); one in Jenkintown, Montgomery County; and the newest location in Camden, NJ. An impressive list of former Settlement students has gone on to exciting careers, including actor Kevin Bacon, jazz bassist Stanley Clarke, pianist Joey DeFrancesco, Tonight Show guitarist
Settlement is a vital force in the communities it serves. It brings together students from every walk of life, providing many with opportunities otherwise unavailable to them through scholarship and financial aid. Settlement Music School helps them not only to develop musical and artistic talents, but also to build self confidence and readiness for academic and other achievements. Students who come here begin life-long friendships with other students who perform with them in ensemble and orchestra programs. One student, a current member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, still plays “gigs” on the side with a friend he met when he was 14 years old at Settlement. Students’ work at Settlement puts them in touch with the best of themselves, the best of their neighbors, and the best that the world has to offer in creative expression. And, anybody, no matter what your skill or circumstance, is accepted. Call 215320-2600 or visit Settlement’s website at www.smsmusic.org for more information.
Settlement Music School Branches Mary Louise Curtis (215) 320-2600 416 Queen Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 Germantown (215) 320-2610 6128 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144 Kardon-Northeast (215) 320-2620 3745 Clarendon Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19114 Jenkintown Music School (215) 320-2630 515 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046 West Philadelphia (215) 320-2640 4910 Wynnefield Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131 Camden School of Musical Arts (856) 541-6375 531-35 Market Street, Camden, NJ 08102 Visit the Settlement Music School website at www.smsmusic.org.
OPERA – Online!
Settlement Music School gives you ways to take music lessons and learn more about music in neighborhood locations throughout the area. Where do you go if you want to learn more about this opera, opera singers, opera-related topics and experience opera more frequently? The Opera Company make this easy for you at absolutely no cost! Visit the Opera Company’s website at http://operaphila.org/community/sol-prod4.shtml and find out more information about L’enfant et les sortilèges, Gianni Schicchi, and all the operas presented by the Opera Company.
Another great way to learn more is to sign up for our Sounds of Learning™ email list at email@example.com and each week we’ll send you a video “clip of the week” with famous opera singers singing great arias and ensembles. Some will be funny, some will be thrilling, some will be dramatic, all if it will be exciting! Also included in the email will be the website of the week. We’ll feature links to singers’ websites, music links, other great music and opera websites. You can build a whole library of video clips to go back to again and again! Share the clips and links with your family and friends. Don’t forget to check out our Sounds of Learning™ blog at http://operaphillysol.blogspot.com. The blog will allow you to discuss the opera with students throughout the tri-state area! Log onto the blog and share your thoughts and views about the opera, the music, the set, the singers, the Academy of Music, coming to center city Philadelphia, the email list clip of the week and more! Other students participating in Sounds of Learning™ from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware want to hear what you have to say! Post your comments by going to http://operaphillysol.blogspot.com.
See rehearsal photos on our website at http://www.operaphila.org/production/behind-scenes. Log on and see our Behind the Scenes area to see how a production develops from the first day of rehearsal to opening night! Also, you can download extra copies of the Sounds of Learning™ guide and past guides from this page as well. All of this content is provided for free! If you’re online, check out our myspace and facebook pages, too. Just search for Opera Company of Philadelphia!
The Man Behind the Music:
Puccini’s family was very poor due to his father’s death at the age of 51, when Giacomo was five. He was the oldest son. His mother was left to support two sons and six daughters. She believed that a good education could free her children from their poverty. The following letter was written by Puccini’s mother to the Queen of Italy in an attempt to acquire a scholarship for her son.
younger brother Michele the few extra lire he had. However, his brother decided to immigrate to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1889 in search of a better life. It was there that he became ill with yellow fever in 1891 and died. The loss of his brother pained Giacomo deeply. If he had been successful a little earlier, he thought, his brother would not have had to emigrate.
Majesty, You are the Queen and the mother of all the poor, and you are also the patroness of artists, while I am a poor widow with two young sons, whose ambition in life is to give them the best education. My children are students of music, and the older of them, Giacomo, shows great promise. For five generations, the Puccini’s have formed a dynasty of musicians, and if the opportunity should arise, Giacomo will continue the glorious tradition. He has terminated his studies at Lucca; he desires to proceed to Milan, the capital of music. I cannot myself pay his expenses at the Conservatory, for I have only a meager monthly pension of 75 lire allowed me by the City Council. The Duchess Carafa, who knows me well, has encouraged me to write to Your Majesty. Will you therefore in your immense generosity come to the help of a poor mother and an ambitious boy.
Puccini’s family was not the only one suffering. Italy was one of the poorest nations of Europe when Puccini was alive. Italy had been one of the last nations to unify its states into a county and powerful Europe nations and the Vatican controlled large sections of the country. As a result of political instability and frequent wars that moved through the region, Italy’s economy was largely underdeveloped. The economy was weak because investors make investments in nations with stable governments. Countries that have frequent uprisings or political instability place the investments and economy at greater risk. Who would want to invest money in an area where the new factory could be burned down in the next riot? As a result, Italy was not able to begin to attract the foreign investors needed to build its economy.
Kissing your munificent hand, I am Albina Magi-Puccini Even after Puccini received a scholarship, he remained poor. He often wrote to his mother about food, requesting a little olive oil or some beans. He found that the other students were from wealthier families and he could not join them at the cafes of Milan because a drink was more than he could afford.
Some scholars feel that the loss of his young brother to an early death, as a result of poverty, was the passionate power behind the music in his operas. The theme of poverty was again addressed in Gianni Schicchi as Buoso Donati’s relatives try to rewrite the old man’s will so they get his riches. As Puccini grew more successful, he continued to be aware of the suffering of those he considered to have “great sorrows in little souls.”
While he was a student at the conservatory, he wrote Capriccio sinfonico. This piece was part of his graduation requirements, and it found its way into the opening theme of his opera La bohème.
ACTIVE LEARNING 1. What are some of the challenges facing families living
After he graduated with a bronze medal, he struggled for ten years before he became recognized as a major talent in the field of opera. During this time, he would send his
Giacomo Puccini Photo Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 , #LC-USZ62-65802
in poverty in Philadelphia?
What are some ways that you can help those who are living in poverty? Investigate local charities that work with the homeless and see what kinds of programs they provide.
If you were in a position to assist at a local charity, can you think of other programs that you would start to help the homeless more?
Maurice Ravel Joseph-Maurice Ravel was born in Ciboure, France on March 7, 1875. His mother, Marie Delouart, was Basque, while his father, Joseph Ravel, was a Swiss inventor and industrialist. Among his father's inventions was an early internal combustion engine. The family moved to Paris when Maurice was three months old. At age seven, he started piano lessons and soon began composing. His parents encouraged his musical talent and sent him to the Conservatoire de Paris when he was 14. After his preparatory studies he majored in piano. During his schooling in Paris, Ravel befriended a group of ground-breaking young artists who called themselves the Apaches (hooligans) because of their wild abandon. At the Conservatoire he studied with the famous composer Gabriel Fauré for fourteen years. Ravel’s cutting edge originality was off-putting to the professors at the Conservatoire. After losing the prestigious Prix de Rome competition five times, Ravel left the Conservatoire in 1905 when his submission was eliminated after the first round, despite the public success of several of his works. In the early 20th century Ravel (together with Claude Debussy) created a style of music partly inspired by the Impressionist paintings of Claude Monet. As a result, France became one of the most exciting musical countries in the world. Ravel worked with Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballet Russes, who staged his ballets Ma Mère l'Oye and Daphnis et Chloé. The latter was commissioned by Diaghilev with the lead danced by the famous Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Around 1918 Ravel's style changed dramatically. His music became more abstract in character. But no matter what style in which he wrote, Ravel was a master of orchestral and piano writing, with a musical language instantly recognizable as his own. In 1921, the French government recognized Ravel's achievements with the Légion d'Honneur award. Unfortunately, it was announced publicly before Ravel himself had been informed and he promptly declined the prize. He moved to the
countryside while still writing music. During this time, Diaghilev asked Ravel to write La Valse (1920). Ravel was so hurt by the fact that Diaghilev never used the composition that when the two men met again in 1925, Ravel refused to shake Diaghilev's hand. Maurice Ravel 1875 – 1937 Although Ravel traveled abroad in his youth, it was not until he was in his fifties that he ventured across the Atlantic. In 1928, Ravel gave an enormously successful four month concert tour of America, traveling as far west as San Francisco. American audiences were enthusiastic and he got to meet show business and art celebrities while here.
Ravel’s most famous composition, Boléro, was also a high point of 1928. Written as a ballet, the piece was huge success, much to Ravel’s surprise, who thought most orchestras would refuse to perform it. Arturo Toscanini conducted the U.S. premiere of Boléro to standing ovations and cheers. In 1931, Oxford University awarded Ravel an honorary doctorate. He also met George Gershwin, and the two became friends. Ravel's admiration of American jazz led him to include some jazz elements in a few of his later compositions, especially the piano concertos. Ravel began to show signs of neurological problems in 1927, and over the next few years he suffered from minor muscle problems, aphasia, and dementia. In 1932 after a car crash, his symptoms began to worsen and affect his work. He had begun work on music for a film version of Don Quixote (1933), but he was unable to finish it. He eventually lost all ability to communicate either through speech, reading, or writing. Ravel consented to brain surgery to correct the aphasia, but on December 28, 1937, he died in Paris after surgery. He is buried in Levallois-Perret, a suburb of northwest Paris.
What in the World??
Personal and Historic Events during the Lives of Ravel and Puccini
Listed below are some historic and cultural events that took place during our composers’ lives. Events in boldface type are things that happened to Puccini and Ravel; an asterisk (*) indicates events of local interest. What might it have been like to be alive at this time?
1857 1858 1861 1865 1870 1874 1875 1876 1877 1882 1883
* Philadelphia’s Academy of Music opened with a concert conducted by Tchaikovsky. Puccini was born on December 22 in Lucca, son of Michele and Albina Magi. American Civil War began. It ended in 1865. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery throughout the U.S. * The first section of the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. opened to the public. * The first U.S. zoo opened in Philadelphia. Maurice Ravel was born in Ciboure, France on March 7. Puccini wrote the Symphonic Prelude. He attended the opera Aïda and was very impressed. * The first department store was opened by John Wanamaker in Philadelphia. The first string of Christmas tree lights was created by Thomas Edison. Puccini graduated from the conservatory with a bronze medal. His Capriccio Sinfonico, which he later used in his opera La bohème, was performed by the student orchestra. * The Philadelphia Phillies, then called the Quakers, played their first baseball game.
Puccini’s first opera, Le Villi, premiered on May 31 in Milan. He began to work with publisher Giulio Ricordi. His mother died. He began a long love affair with his friend wife.
1884 1888 1889 1890 1890 1892 1893
America's first roller coaster began operating at Coney Island, NYC. It hit a top speed of 6 mph.
The Washington Monument opened. Puccini’s second opera Edgar premiered at La Scala on April 21 with short-lived success. Ravel entered Paris Conservatoire, but left in 1895 when he graduated from piano class. Ellis Island, NYC, opened as a US immigration depot. The American Pledge of Allegiance was first recited in public schools to commemorate Columbus Day. Manon Lescaut gave Puccini his first big success at Teatro Reggio in Turin on February 1. * Philadelphia observed the first Flag Day. Frederick E. Blaisdell patented the pencil. Arturo Toscanini led the premiere of La bohème at Teatro Regio on February 1. The first movie theater in US opened and charged 10 cents for admission.
Ravel returned Paris Conservatoire to study composition with Gabriel Faurè.
Puccini’s Tosca premiered at Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14. Les Apaches, a group of French creative artists of which Ravel was a member, was formed around 1900.
1901 1903 1904
Ravel wrote his famous piano work, Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavne for a dead infant).
* The first annual Mummers parade was held in Philadelphia. Ravel wrote his famous orchestra song cycle Shéhérazade. Puccini married Elvira Bonturi after the death of her first husband. Madama Butterfly had a disastrous premiere at La Scala, but its revised version was a triumph on May 28.
Ravel received a commission by the ballet impresario and creator of Ballets Ruses, Sergei Diaghilev, to write the ballet Daphnis et Chloé. The role of Daphnis was danced by Vaslav Nijinsky at the premiere.
Puccini attended the New York premiere of La fanciulla del west on November 10. The opera was based on David Belasco’s play, The Girl of the Golden West.
Ravel’s first completed opera, L’heure espagnole (The Spanish Hour), premiered at the Opéra Comique, Paris on May 19.
Ravel turned his piano suite Ma mère l’oye (Mother Goose) into a ballet score.
1912 1914 1915
The British ocean liner Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg.
Puccini’s operetta-inspired La rondine debuted in Monte Carlo on March 27.
W.H. Carrier patented the air conditioner. Ravel volunteered in the French army as a truck driver, but was discharged after 18 months because of medical problems.
Ravel’s mother died, which devastated the composer.
Puccini had his second world premiere at the Met with Il trittico on December 14. Daylight Savings Time went into effect throughout the United States for the first time.
1919 1920 1921
* Construction began on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s current home. It was completed in 1928. The United States Congress passed the 18th amendment, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, and the 19th amendment which granted suffrage to American women. Ravel moves to an apartment near Montfort-l’Amaury with his cats and whimsical toys and art objects.
Harlem Renaissance begins in the New York City borough.
Ravel’s second complete opera, L’enfant et les sortileges premiered in Monte Carlo on March 21st.
After treatment for throat cancer, Puccini died of a heart attack on November 29. His remains were moved to Torre del Lago and reinterred in the estate chapel.
Puccini’s Turandot premiered incomplete at La Scala, conducted by Toscanini on April 25. Later performance included the ending as completed by Franco Alfano who used Puccini’s sketches.
The National Broadcasting Co. (NBC) debuted with a radio network of 24 stations.
Tenor Enrico Caruso in Puccini’s La fanciulla del west.
Ravel gave a concert tour of America and premiered his most famous work, Boléro.
Photo courtesy Library of Congress
National Geographic took the 1st natural-color undersea photos.
Smokey the Bear was created.
1929 1930 1932 1935 1937
The Great Stock Market Crash devastated the American investors and was one of several events that led to the Great Depression, which ended around 1939. * The Philadelphia Athletes defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 to win the World Series. Ravel was diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a disease that causes brain deterioration. Parker Brothers began to sell the Monopoly board game Ravel underwent to experimental brain surgery. After surgery he went into a coma and soon died.
ACTIVE LEARNING Explore the library or the internet and discover more events that occurred during this era. Consider making your own timeline with additional events from this period. You may also illustrate your timeline.
1. 2. 3.
Which presidents were in office during Puccini’s lifetime? What amendment granted women the right to vote and when was it made law? The Philadelphia Phillies were not always called that. Under what other names did they play?
Information taken from Timelines of History website at http://timelines.ws.
Making Magic Onstage How do you create an opera? It’s a long and collaborative process that can take over a year. For the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, the road to producing the opera has been invigorating and creatively inspiring. “Ultimately,” says Opera Company General and Artistic Director Robert B. Driver, “the process of creating a production is as rewarding as the final product.”
When deciding to mount a production of Ravel’s infrequently performed gem, Mr. Driver says, “What attracts me most to L’enfant is that it is so whimsical. There is an innate sense of humor to the piece and plenty of opportunities for fun onstage.” Ravel even got caught up in the whimsy of the piece. The composer couldn’t speak English or Chinese. When he and his librettist, famous French novelist Colette, worked on the duet for the Teapot and China cup, they threw in nonsensical English and Chinese words, even making up some words that they thought sounded Chinese. Mr. Driver continued, “Ravel’s music beautifully describes the moods and personalities of myriad characters: from the petulant, spoiled Child, to the 18th Century style courtly dance of the sofa and chair, to the panic that Arithmetic instills. The story is one that everyone can relate to: a child that doesn’t want to do his homework. But the Child throws a tantrum and ends up getting punished. We think that the Child is cruel, but he is redeemed when he shows his good nature by helping the squirrel. “As a producer you have to ask yourself, ‘How do you show the magic of the piece, especially when the music is so descriptive?’” As the opera’s producer and director, Mr. Driver’s challenge was how to bring the opera to life. “I start with an idea or concept of what the production will look like,” he says. He needed to hire his design team to help bring the opera to the stage. The artistic team adds to the creative process by exchanging ideas with one another. The final product is the result of a very collaborative effort. Joining Mr. Driver on the L’enfant artistic team are Italian set designer Guia Buzzi, costume designer Richard St. Clair, video designer Lorenzo Curone and choreographer Amanda Miller.
Richard St. Clair’s design for the Grandfather Clock, complete with Salvador Dali inspired moustache and broken pendulum-like tie.
With his team in place they discussed whether the entire opera was a dream or real. Ultimately they want to leave that decision to the audience. Should the set design be realistic or more dream like? Mr. Driver knew from the outset that he didn’t want a production that was “realistic” in which the objects would come to life as they do in Disney’s Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. They decided to set the opera in the time of the composer: the 1920s. They wanted to make as colorful and imaginative a production as possible. A blazing red set was initially designed.
Math always plays a part in creating an opera production. As the production began to come together they realized that the cost of their vision would go beyond the amount of money that had been budgeted. They would need to be more creative to spend less money to come in on budget. The artistic team wanted a production that would be of high artistic quality yet inspire the audience’s imagination. They decided to use technology and video projections to expand the possibilities of what could happen onstage. To move away from a Beauty and the Beast production style, the team decided that the singers would be costumed as the “spirit” of the furniture rather than the physical representation of them. Some of the furniture in the room would now become projections while a singer’s costume would be designed to suggest the furniture based on similar fabrics and textures. For example, the costume for the Side Chair has red and white stripes, which will be the same colors of the projection of the actual chair. Costume Designer Richard St. Clair says, “Because this opera is in French, I was inspired by the Louis XIV style chair the set designer had chosen. Amanda Miller the choreographer had imagined a very court-like style of choreography for the chairs. I was inspired by Marie Antoinette and the French designer Lacroix. By googling 'Lacroix Dress' I found a dress that had a shape that evoked the 18th Century, the time of Marie Antoinette, and also evoked the feeling of a fancy chair with a skirt under the seat. I looked at many costume books, especially Lacroix on Fashion. It is fun to find research on the internet but books can never be replaced as the best source of inspiration and research for costumes. “The top of the dress will be padded to look like the back of a fancy chair. Under her dress she will have 'panniers'- which are little padded 'hip buckets' that they used in the 18th C. to make the dresses look wider at the hips. French doors were actually invented because some panniers got so wide that a woman had to go though double wide opened doors because her court dress was so big from side to side! You can see these by googling images of panniers and 18th Century dress. For her hairstyle I also googled images of Marie Antoinette for inspiration. She will have a powdered white wig in the style of the mid 18th century- the time when Marie Antoinette was a young girl.” Projections have liberated the creative team to explore the possibilities of the technology. Images and animations will be projected onto a special screen called a scrim. Characters will walk in and out of the scrim as the singers become the spirit of the furniture. Some characters will sing from the
stage to a character projected onto the scrim, some projected characters will sing to a character onstage, two projected characters will sing to each other, two characters onstage will sing to each other, and more. For Robert B. Driver, this production has been very fulfilling to produce. He’s been able to use his artistic creativity at high speed to create a fascinating, playful, and charming production. We hope that you enjoy this rarely performed opera, too!
Costume Designer Richard St. Clair’s Louis XIV Chairinspired costume.
Seeing between the Lines:
The Impressionists Maurice Ravel’s fantastical L’enfant et les sortilèges is a mix of musical styles as seen through the his impressionistic lens. Impressionism was a French artistic school in the late 1800s and early 1900s that influenced music, art, and literature. Impressionist painters looked at subjects in a non-representational way. Their paintings don’t have a realistic, photographic-like quality to them. They call attention to light and color to give an "impression" of their subjects. As many artists would paint in the open air or en plein air, the light would change as the sun made its way across the sky. Some artists would show the changing light in their art. Artists also illustrated movement, which, along with their trademark short brush strokes, tends to give the paintings a “blurry” feeling. Some of the most famous French Impressionist painters are Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and PierreAuguste Renoir. Dozens of their pieces can be seen at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Even American painter Mary Cassatt is famous for her some of her Impressionist-style works. Impressionist writers expressed a character’s feelings, sensations, and impressions, rather than explaining their emotions and actions. Impressionist writing is similar to Symbolist writing because both include non-realistic and representational elements. Impressionist writers from France include Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine. Two of the most famous Impressionist writers, Virginia Woolf and Joseph Conrad, aren’t French, but British and Polish.
Music was also influenced by the Impressionist school. French composers such as L’enfant et les sortilèges composer Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Clair de Lune), and Paul Dukas (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) wrote in this style. In the mid 1800s France was under the spell of the music of German opera composer Richard Wagner. His music was dramatic, very emotional and very romantic. His operas’ subjects are based on legends and myths like Tristan and Isolde, the Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, or the Norse god Odin. Composer Claude Debussy reacted against this romanticism and chose a path opposite that of Wagner. Unlike music that dramatically wears its heart on its sleeve and overwhelms with emotion, Impressionist music is very atmospheric and creates “descriptive feelings.” Like the somewhat blurry paintings of the school that don’t precisely depict an image, Impressionist music doesn’t necessarily describe anything or tell a story; it simply creates a mood. Ravel’s famous Bolèro doesn’t have a plot, but it is definitely atmospheric. Debussy and Ravel revolutionized the way music sounded by using the notes in a way that no one before them had. They used whole-tone scale patterns rather than the traditional major and minor scales and used dissonant note clusters which created striking new harmonies. They influenced composers from Gianni Schicchi composer Giacomo Puccini to George Gershwin, composer of Porgy and Bess, Rhapsody in Blue, and hundreds of popular songs. Gershwin was so taken with Ravel’s music that he wanted to study with him in Paris. Ravel commented, “Why should you be a secondrate Ravel when you can be a first-rate Gershwin?”
ACTIVE LEARNING 1. Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s European Art galleries.
2. Listen to Ravel’s Bolèro or Debussy’s The Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, or Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
3 Read Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem The Afternoon of a Faun and discuss it with your classmates. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette), 1876
Synopses L’enfant et les sortilèges A naughty child, procrastinating over school work, is reprimanded by his mother. Along in his room, the child throws a tantrum and attacks everything around him, including the family cat. One by one all of the objects in the room come to life to speak to him of their plight: the armchair, grandfather clock, even the flickering fire. Suddenly his neglected arithmetic homework comes up to challenge him with impossible exercises. The cat meows a duet with its mate. Gradually the room transforms into a garden filled with singing animals and tress, who lament their cruel wounds inflicted by the child. They shun him because of the damage he did to them previously. Feeling rejected from this harmonious animal world, he eventually cries out, "Maman." At this, the animals turn and close in on him. A small squirrel, previously wounded, comes up to the child's lap. Instinctively the child shows compassion, and bandages the squirrel's paw with a ribbon. These actions cause the animals to have a change of heart toward the child, and they decide to try to help him home by calling "Maman." Soon, Maman comes to the call and is reunited with her child.
help. The family scoffs at Schicchi's low birth but eventually deigns to ask for help. Schicchi refuses and Lauretta intercedes, begging her father to change his mind and make her marriage to Rinuccio possible in the famous aria "O, mio babbino caro." Schicchi agrees and comes up with a plan: they are to hide Buoso's death long enough for him to disguise himself as the old man and dictate a new will. The family loves the plan and promptly contacts a notary. Before the notary arrives, each family member tries to bribe Schicchi to leave the largest portion of property to them. Schicchi agrees to all of the bribes, and reminds the family members that revealing the hoax will mean severe legal repercussions: the penalty for forgery is the loss of a hand and exile. When the notary arrives, Schicchi, as Buoso, awards the majority of the property to "my devoted friend, Gianni Schicchi." The relatives are helpless to intervene and once the notary is gone, Schicchi drives them all out of his newly-inherited home. Rinuccio and Lauretta remain and sing of their love. Schicchi joins them and announces to the audience his satisfaction with the way Buoso's money has been used.
Gianni Schicchi Buoso Donati, a rich older gentleman, has just died. His relatives are gathered around the deathbed feigning grief, while their minds are on the contents of his will. When a rumor surfaces that Buoso has left his entire fortune to a local monastery. The rumor sends everyone into a frenzy to locate the will. Rinuccio finds it first and withholds it from the others with a condition attached: when the family members receive their money, Rinuccio wants their permission to marry Lauretta, the daughter of Gianni Schicchi. The family agrees, but they are disappointed when the will is opened and it does indeed leave all of Buoso's money to the Church. Rinuccio, determined to get his way, suggests that the family consult Gianni Schicchi, who is famed for his cunning. Not waiting for the family to answer, Rinuccio secretly summons Schicchi for
Richard St. Clair’s design for the China Cup in Ravels’ L’enfant et les sortilèges
Gianni Schicchi? Gianni Schicchi, the infamous Florentine forever immortalized in Dante’s Divine Comedy and in Puccini’s only comic opera, was actually a real person. He was a member of the famous Cavalcanti family and was well known for being a mischievous and talented, if dodgy, imitator. Schicchi’s impersonation of the recently deceased Buoso Donati, earned him a spot in Dante’s work. Buoso died around 1285 and was of the noble Black Guelph Donati family. Schicchi rewrote Donati’s will, bequeathing the dead man’s most precious items to himself. It’s hard to say if the story actually took place or not. Some scholars think it is true, while others think it’s a local legend that has been credited to Schicchi. These humorous and shocking events are only alluded to in the Inferno section of Divine Comedy. Dante may have known Schicchi. Dante was close friends with poet Guido Cavalcanti Dante and was connected to the Donati family through marriage. When Dante was 12 years old, his marriage was arranged to Gemma di Manetto Donati, daughter of Manetto Donati. Gemma may have been a cousin or niece of Buoso Donati.
The full details and perhaps the real inspiration for the opera’s libretto are found in “Commentary on the Divine Comedy by an Anonymous Florentine of the 14th Century'', which was printed in 1866. The story says that the mortally ill Buoso Donati wanted to make his will. He was rich and had much to leave others. His son Simone wouldn’t call the notary to have the will written. When Donati died, Simone hid his death, afraid that a will was written before the illness. Simone asked Gianni Schicchi for advice. Schicchi could mimic anyone and he knew Buoso well. Schicchi would dictate a new will as Simone wished, but would leave something for himself. Simone agreed. A notary was notified that Buoso wanted to make a will. Buoso’s body was hidden. Schicchi put on Buoso’s nightcap and got into his bed. The notary arrived and Schicchi perfectly imitated the dead man and dictated a new will. He left 20 soldi to the works of Santa Reparata, and 5 lire to the Little Friars, and 5 to the Preachers, making sure to leave something for God. He then left 500 florins to Gianni Schicchi. Upset, Simone said he would pay Schicchi on his own. Schicchi, as Buoso, countered that he would give his wealth as he pleased and that Simone would be very happy with what was given to him. Schicchi continued, leaving Buoso’s mule, the best in Tuscany, to himself. Simone argued that Schicchi didn’t need a mule. “Buoso” responded that he knew what Schicchi wanted better than Simone did. “Buoso” finished by leaving a hundred florins owed to him by his neighbor to Schicchi and everything else to Simone. He specified that if the will wasn’t executed in fifteen days, all of his riches would go to the Little Friars of Santa Croce. With the will complete, all departed. Schicchi got out of bed, and Buoso's body was replaced. Truth or legend, we may never know if Schicchi actually rewrote Donati’s will. He is certainly a colorful character from history, and one of the funniest men to grace the operatic stage.
Ricordi opera poster for Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi
ACTIVE LEARNING: 1. Which lines in Dante’s Inferno refer to Gianni Schicchi and Buoso Donati?
2. Who were some of the prominent members of the Cavalcanti family?
3. Who were the Guelfs and the Ghibellines?
Dante’s Divine Comedy Around 1304 Durante degli Alighieri, called Dante Alighieri today, began writing the single greatest work in the Italian language and one of the greatest works of literature ever: Divina Commedia, or Divine Comedy. The work is a classic example of an epic poem, or a very long poem that tells a story. Other epic poems include Beowulf, One Thousand and One Nights, Paradise Lost by John Milton (1667), and Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz (1834). Dante lived during the late Middle Ages in Florence. It is believed he was born in 1265, but no official birth records exist. Though famous today for his writing, his passion was politics. Dante was an important man in the White Guelf political faction, named for its symbolic color. When the group was overthrown in 1302, Dante and the White Guelphs were exiled. The Pope said if he returned to Florence he would be burned at the stake. During his exile Dante wrote Divine Comedy and other works. At that time Italy was broken up into many states, each with its own dialect. Dante wrote the Comedy in a new language he called "Italian". It was based on the Tuscany dialect, with a mix of some Latin and other regional dialects. Most important works were published in Latin, but Comedy was one of the first to be published in the vernacular. More people were able to read it, and it helped standardize Italian throughout the land. The poem is called a “comedy” because it is in Italian. If it had been written in Latin, it would have been thought to be a more serious and important work. Written in the first person, Divine Comedy relays Dante’s Easter journey through the three realms of the dead in 1300. The poet Virgil guides him through the Nine Circles of Hell and the Three Terraces of Purgatory. Beatrice, a woman he had loved from afar in the tradition of courtly love since he was nine years old, guides him through the Nine Spheres of Heaven. The poem is famously complex with interweaving themes and symbolism. The numbers three and nine appear throughout. It has over 14,000 lines. Each of its three sections, Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Heaven) has an introductory canto, or verse, and 33 cantos. The entire poem has a total of 100 cantos. Dante created a three line stanza, called terza rima, to make a chain rhyme in this pattern:
Gustave Doré's 1867 illustration for the 28th Canto of In Paradiso, in Dante's Divine Comedy
a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, e-e. An example of this type of rhyme is Percy Shelly’s “Ode to the West Wind”(1819): 0 wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being, (a) Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead (b) Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, (a) Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, (b) Pestilence-stricken multitudes: 0 thou, (c) Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed (b) The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low, (c) Each like a corpse within its grave, until (d) Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow (c) Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill (d) (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) (e) With living hues and odours plain and hill: (d) Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; (e) Destroyer and Preserver; hear, 0 hear! (e)
Our opera’s Gianni Schicchi appears in the 30th Canto in Inferno, lines 33–45. Gianni Schicchi was a member of the Florentine Cavalcanti family and known for his impersonations. Simone Donati hired him to impersonate his dead father, Buoso Donati, and alter the will in Simone's favor before the death was publicly revealed. For this he is to spend the rest of his days in Hell. The work was first published in 1314 and was regarded as a masterpiece. The allegorical poem has gone on to influence writers throughout the ages and helped unify the Italian states with one language. Dante was an influential writer, politician, and gave birth to a new language for Italy.
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October 10, 12m, 15, 19m & 24
November 14, 16m, 19, 21 & 23m
February 20, 22m, 25 March 1m & 6
April 24, 26m, 29 May 1 & 3m
June 5, 7m, 10, 12 & 14m
March 13, 15 & 18
* The Kimmel Center Presents Curtis Opera Theatreâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s production in association with Opera Company of Philadelphia