Il Teatro dei Differenti was one of my first operatic venues when I moved to Longoio in 2005. What a difference going out for the evening to Barga from my new home from travelling to Covent Garden from Woolwich in London. There, I had to struggle through the infamous bottleneck of the Blackwall tunnel before hitting the “docklands motorway” to emerge into the Strand and, finally, Covent Garden where a parking space was generally assured. Of course, this was never by the car (!) but on our trusty Honda Transalp (the same one that had originally taken me to the Lima valley back in 1997) to weave our way through steel corridors of stationary cars stuck in a seemingly endless traffic jam. We could do the journey in a little under an hour and I have to thank that motorbike for being able to survive and move around the big smoke – otherwise, I’d have moved out even before. (When I think than on average the London motorist spends around 15% of his/her life stuck in a metal box….)
Barga is always a pleasure to drive or ride to or (on this occasion in summer 2005) take the train and bus.Here is departure from Bagni di Lucca railway station and arrival at Barga (Mologno):
Barga’s opera season is a delight, with my favourite kind of stuff usually put on. That year 2005, it was Sardelli conducting a Vivaldi opera called Montezuma. The score had been discovered in Kiev in the Ukraine as part of the collection of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin which had been looted towards the end of World War ll. OK, except for the fact that it wasn’t the original music for Motezuma – a German opera company still had the performing rights to that and so poor Sardelli had to arrange other Vivaldi music to the libretto!
Much of the excitement of Italian Opera is in the audience and I remember on that occasion just before the start of the performance that a gentleman from the stalls raised the question that the product sold to him wasn’t the one originally specified. This produced a lively debate among the audience and, in some respects, was the most dramatic part of the evening! Eventually, of course, the opera did kick off and what a thoroughly enjoyable show it was too..
Vivaldi‘s operas have played an important role in the festival and Sardelli’s musicianship in interpreting their often amazingly exciting and vocally challenging music is ace. The following year, for instance, the Teatro dei Differenti put on another Vivaldi piece: “Atenaide”.
Do move on from the Four Seasons – you won’t regret it!
I am really looking forwards to this year’s production which will be the first modern performance, with full scenery, of Giovanni Paolo Colonna’s (1637-1695) oratorio “La Caduta di Gierusalemme”(sic) – a topical subject since it refers to islamist terrorism – this time during the crusades.
How wonderful it is to have an intimate view of well-performed opera in one of the world’s most charming theatre and enjoy a Campari soda during the intervals in the balmy summer nights of Barga – although I do sometimes miss my can of beer and bag of fish and chips on a bench under drizzling rain near the Royal Opera House during that interval…..