A rediscovery at the Latvian National Opera. The opera L’incantesimo was forgotten soon after its premiere. Its composer, Italo Montemezzi, was inspired by the great champions of Italian verismo, including Ruggero Leoncavallo. This resurrection of Montemezzi’s work will be performed in a double bill alongside Pagliacci.
Lord Folco is out hunting in dead of winter when a hind with the face of his beloved wife Giselda appears to him in a vision. In a panic, he stabs the creature and flees. A necromancer warns him that if his love for Giselda is to survive, he must find the mortally wounded hind and bring her back to the castle with him. Meanwhile, Giselda’s own feelings for her former suitor Rinaldo have been rekindled. Italo Montemezzi’s musical heroes were the great exponents of Italian verismo: Puccini, Leoncavallo, and Mascagni, as well as Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. L’incantesimo (The Love Spell) of 1943 was premiered posthumously in Verona in 1952, but has rarely been performed since then.
The Latvian National Opera in Riga pairs Montemezzi’s piece with one of the most famous examples of Italian verismo opera: Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Blinded by jealousy, Canio, the leader of a Commedia-dell’arte troupe, exacts terrible revenge on his unfaithful wife Nedda. Conductor Jānis Liepiņš of the Latvian National Opera has studied Montemezzi’s work in depth and this new production draws on various archive versions of it. The staging of both operas is the work of director Aik Karapetian, set designer A. J. Weissbard, costume designer Kristīne Pasternaka, and video artist Artis Dzērve. The same team recently staged a new production of Charles Gounod’s Faust, also in Riga.