'Torvaldo e Dorliska',
reviewed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
Torvaldo e Dorliska is the third production of the 2017Rossini Opera Festival — a revival of a joint venture between the ROF and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Then, the opera was performed at the PesaroFestival in summer 2006 and in Naples in winter 2007. I have no memoryof other performances, but in summer 2006 I reviewed the opera for
an Italian weekly and wrote that it was of
interest mostly to opera philologists. The librettist, Cesare Sterbini —
also the author of the libretto for Il Barbiere di
called it dramma semiserio, meaning a rather truculent subject with moments of comic relief and a happy ending.
A very special sub-category of drama
seminiserio was that of plays or operas named pieces à sauvetage where, after a
complicated and highly dramatic intrigue, the 'good guys' arrive, punish
the 'bad guys' and save the protagonists just as they are about to be
killed. Beethoven's Fidelioand Cherubini's Lodoiska belong
to this category. Indeed, Fidelio's first version, Leonore,
is one of the best examples of dramma semiseriobecause
the tragicplot is intertwined with comic moments. Two years after Torvaldo
e Dorliska, Rossinicomposed a masterpiece of the genre: La
Teatro Valle produced the opera for the
first time in Rome on 26 December 1815. It was a success and one of the determinants for the decision to contract
Rossini and Sterbini for Il Barbiere di Siviglia, staged a
few months later, also at the Teatro Argentina in Rome. This ROF revival started on 12 August 2017. I was in
the audience at the opening performance.
The plot evolves in the castle of Ordow, somewhere
in Northern Europe. The Duke, a gloomy and bad tempered man, is certain to have killed
his rival in love (Torvaldo) but has not been successful in capturing the prey, Torvaldo's wife, Dorliska. She falls into the Duke's hands, because after wandering
in the woods by night she knocks at the castle door, almost by accident.
Torvaldo is not dead, and arrives at the
castle too, in disguise as a woodcutter. After a good amount of
intrigues, the castle keeper, Giorgio, and the other servants decide that
their boss has gone beyond any reasonable limits.
In the score are seeds of future works by Rossini, including Il
Barbiere di Siviglia. The orchestration is minimal, mostly in support of the vocal parts. There are
some excellent arias such as Dorliska's cavatina and the Duke's last aria. The basso buffo (Giorgio) and the lyric tenor have rather impervious vocalizing. Overall, the opera is
half-baked; its most interestingmoments are the indications of future
The stage direction by Mario Martone, the set by Sergio
Tramonti and the costumes by Ursula Patzak are sufficiently gothic to fit the gloomiest
parts of the plot more than the comic and happy sections. Francesco
Lanzillotta conducted the Rossini SymphonicOrchestra efficiently. The singers were of quite high level, especially Nicola Alaimo (the Duke),
Dmitry Korchak (Torvaldo), Salome Jicia (Dorliska) and Carlo Lepore (Giorgio). The audience applauded the performers.