Ferruccio Busoni (1866–1924) Arlecchino Op. 50 K 270
A Theatrical Caprice in 1 Act duration: 55´ Text: Ferruccio Busoni
solos: Sp MezT2BarB – 2(picc).2(cor ang).2(Bkl).2(dble bsn). – 18.104.22.168. – timp.perc.(2) – Cel. – str – stage music: 2trp.timp.perc.
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Text by the composer
Translation: engl. (E. J. Dent), ital. (V. Levi), port. (G. de Medeiros)
Place and time: Bergamo, around the 18th century.
Characters: Sèr Matteò del Sarto, master tailor (baritone) - Abbate Cospicuo (baritone) - Dottore Bombasto (bass) - Leandro, Cavaliere (tenor) - Arlecchino (speaking part) - Colombina, Arlecchino’s wife (mezzo-soprano) - Annunziata, Matteo’s wife - Zwei Sbirren - Ein Kärrner - a Donkey - People at the windows (silent parts)
The idea behind this work was to combine a major speaking role with a part for a female singer and orchestra in the spirit of the opera buffa. The overall tone is pacifistic and anti-bourgeois. Busoni’s inspiration was that of an opera-play in the style of Italian improvised comedy; he wanted types and characters on stage whose varying typology would provide the source of conflict ... "The title hero absconds with the young wife of the Dante-reading tailor Matteo. He returns as a false barbarian commander, as a husband who engages in a duel with the suitor Count Leandro, and as a conqueror who announces the moral of the story in the epilogue: how to be able to bow in rags and still retain one’s dignity and rights. The piece takes a turn for the absurd when the Abbate, at the sight of Leandro, who is presumed dead, begins to sing a chorale-like song of praise to the donkey of Providence who comes trotting in at that moment. This introduces the most musically refined number in the piece, the quartet, in which Leandro’s love aria and his duet with Columbina satirize the attitudes prevalent in Italian opera from Scarlatti to Verdi. Musically, Busoni uses throughout the entire work an idiom of dance-like, blissfully transparent comedy and hides harmonic audacities behind touches of lightness. The orchestral sound radiates an incomparable brightness and buoyant elegance.” (Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt, 1967)
|1. Introduction, Scene and Arietta|
|4. March and Scene|
|5a. Scene and Aria|
|6. Scene for two, then three characters|
|7. Scene, Quartet and Melodrama|
|9. Finale: Procession and Dance|