La fiamma

Ottorino Respighi in 1903.jpg
La fiamma (Italian: ; The Flame) is an opera in three acts by Ottorino Respighi to a libretto by Claudio Guastalla based on Hans Wiers-Jenssen's 1908 play Anne Pedersdotter, The Witch. The plot is loosely based on the story of Anne Pedersdotter, a Norwegian woman who was accused of witchcraft and burnt at the stake in 1590. However, Respighi and Guastalla changed the setting of the opera to 7th century Ravenna. The melodramatic tale involves the illicit love of Silvana, the daughter of a witch, for her stepson Donello. When her husband Basilio dies of a heart attack, Silvana is accused of causing his death by witchcraft and is condemned to death. La fiamma premiered to considerable success on 23 January 1934 at the Teatro Reale dell'Opera in Rome in a performance conducted by Respighi himself. The production was directed by Alessandro Sanine with sets designed by Nicola Benois.

After its premiere the work was produced in Buenos Aires and Chicago (1934), Milan (1935), and in Florence (1938) using a production from Budapest. After the war it was staged again at La Scala (1955), then Rome (1956) and Budapest (1989).

La fiamma is scored for the following instruments:

piccolo, 2 flutes , 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, double bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, bass tuba, timpani, bass drum, tam-tam, harp, strings.

The first act is set in Basilio's summer villa. His aged mother, Eudossia watches while servants and lady in waiting Monica weave, and sing as they work. Eudossia leaves, and the girls talk happily, while the chatter turns to witchcraft. Basilio's young wife Silvana enters and confesses to Monica how sad she feels in the palace. A crowd is heard off-stage in pursuit of Agnese di Cervia, a friend of Silvana's mother, accused of sorcery and infanticide. Agnese appears to Silvana and begs to be hidden. Silvana obliges, and although Silvana tries to make her swear she has no magic powers, Agnese forestalls this.

Basilio's son by his first marriage, Donello, arrives home after many years away and addresses Silvana whom he knew when she was a young girl; Donello and a friend had been led to the house of Agnese to heal a wound. Warm feelings are rekindled between them. On the prompting of Eudossia the house is searched and Agnese is discovered and dragged out. She swears hysterically that she is not guilty but is taken to be burnt.

This page was last edited on 25 June 2018, at 08:15 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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