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Teatro della Gioventù

Total duration 40 minutes
No intermission

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Il Pigmalione

Donizetti reinterprets the romantic myth of Pigmalione. Performed by the students of the Carlo Felice Opera Academy

Dramatic scene in one act
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Libretto by Antonio Simeone Sografi

A new production by Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova

Manuel Caputo / Paolo Nevi

Gabriella Ingenito / Martina Saviano

Umberto Musso

Fabio Sparvoli

Il Pigmalione is Gaetano Donizetti’s first opera. It is a one-act dramatic scene that the composer worked on in 1816, when he was still a student. The libretto, by playwright Simeon Antonio Sografi, takes an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. (The myth was also the subject of a 1770 scène lyrique of the same name by Jean Jacques Rousseau). The protagonist, Pygmalion, is king of Cyprus. Throughout his life he never found harmony with women and turned away from any form of love, devoting himself instead to cultivating his passion for sculpture. Through his art, Pygmalion tries to recreate an ideal of beauty, until one day he creates a sculpture depicting the highest expression of that same ideal, in the form of a woman. In love with his own work, Pygmalion asks Aphrodite for help in transforming the sculpture, Galatea, into a woman. In the happy ending, Galatea comes to life and holds Pygmalion close to her. Donizetti’s mise-en-scène takes up the linearity of the myth, with a focus on the character of Pigmalione (Galatea’s part, after her metamorphosis, is only introduced in the last passage). Although the dramatic scene is the composer’s first approach to opera writing, one can perceive a special flair for musical theatre. Donizetti’s writing effectively recreates the creative tension and wonder of the meeting of the two lovers. The first performance of the opera took place more than a century after the composer’s death, in 1960, at the Teatro Donizetti in Bergamo.