Saturday, July 23, 2016

Italian Barihunk Franco Cerri at Torre del Lago Festival

Italian Barihunk Franco Cerri
Barihunk Franco Cerri is at the Torre del Lago Festival through August 13th in Puccini's hometown where he's performing Sciarrone in the composer's Tosca, as well as Tartaglia in the Ferruccio Busoni version of Turandot. Last season, he performed Guccio in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at the Festival. 

Busoni’s Turandot is based on same subject that Puccini set to music by Puccini, but has a more ironic fairytale style than the better known work. Busoni has been fascinated by the fairy tale by Carlo Gozzi before Puccini and wrote his own libretto. Busoni’s Turandot, premiered at the Municipal Theatre in Zurich on May 11, 1917 and remains among one of the most significant works of his rich artistic productions  It took Busoni 100 days to write the Turandot score, a record time but, needed to not miss the opportunity that the Theatre of Zurich had offered him to host his composition.

There are various oddities in Busoni's libretto which recall the play's Commedia dell'arte roots: characters with Italian names like Truffaldino,  Pantalone and Cerri's character Tartaglia; Allah is praised in China; and there are references to Venice, St. Mark's, and gondolas. The spoken dialogue harks back to Mozart's operas, especially The Magic Flute. In comparison to Puccini's opera on the same subject, Busoni retains the intimate, unreal atmosphere of Gozzi's pla.y Busoni's princess Turandot is not quite so implacable; her heart is readier to melt.

Barihunk Franco Cerri backstage at Torre del Lago (left) and in rehearsal (far right)
The opera is often performed as part of a double bill with Busoni's earlier one-act opera Arlecchino, a tradition which began at the premiere (the Festival is not performing Arlecchino). The first performance in Italy (without Arlecchino) was on November 29, 1936 in Rome, conducted by Fernando Previtali. Previtali, a Busoni champion, who went on to conduct performances in other Italian cities and conducted the premiere of the opera at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 1964.

Tickets for Tosca and Turandot are available online.

Born in Genoa, Italy, Cerri  began his studies with piano, drama and ballet dancing. While at the Conservatory, he studied singing with the great Italian baritone Silvano Carroli. In 2012, he won the Città di Alcamo International Singing Competition.  

Franco Cerri sings Rossini's "Resta immobile" from William Tell:

He made his professional debut as a bass, singing the Bonze in the Puccini's Madame Butterfly and the title role in Rossini's Mosè in Genoa. His debut as baritone was with the role of Marcello in Puccini's La boheme followed by the role of Silvio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci.

He has performed Riccardo in Bellini's I Puritani in Licata, Madama Butterfly and The Barber of Seville at the Arena Alpe Adria of Lignano, Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata at the Trentino Opera Festival, Manzitti’s Les Invisibles at the Great Palazzo Ducale in Genoa and Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore at the Festival Illica Castell'Arquato.

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