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Do you know Alfredo Casella’s La Donna Serpente? Me neither. And my advice is don’t rush. Despite a lavish production in Turin, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda with great commitment and a strong Italian cast, it remains a lost cause. Premiered in 1932, it is based on a fable by Gozzi (as was Turandot) and is the tale of a fairy princess who marries a mortal but is cursed to become a snake – thankfully some magic intervenes to restore her to her loved ones, including the children she had already flung from a precipice into a fire to test her husband’s love. (The unfortunate sprogs are rescued and reunited with their mother. I’m sure they were absolutely delighted to see Mommie Dearest.) Arturo Cirillo’s production is well-paced, and though no one singer stands out for praise, everybody is up to the task. But when the best bits of an opera are the witty ballet and the lavish costumes then something’s gone wrong – and in this case I think it is the opera itself, which could have remained on the shelf. The music is pleasant enough, sometimes colourful, but eminently forgettable.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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