Categories: Performing Arts

‘Two Women’ goes from novel and film to opera

San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti sounds like a proud midwife, talking about this week’s world premiere of “Two Women” (“La Ciociara”) in the War Memorial Opera House.

“It involves Italian and American people in a very dramatic moment of our mutual history, leading up to the liberation of 1940s Italy from the Nazis and Fascists,” says the conductor, who recruited fellow Italian Marco Tutino to compose to the work (his 15th opera), and convinced S.F. Opera General Director David Gockley to commission it.

Luisotti says it has “powerful music that communicates directly with the audience,” while Gockley describes it as a work “in direct line in the great tradition of Italian opera” and “of the lush musical palette of Puccini, Leoncavallo and Mascagni.”

The first Italian work commissioned by Gockley (who has presented more than 40 new operas), “La Ciociara” also may be the first Italian opera for a major company in about a century, since New York’s Metropolitan Opera’s 1910 premiere of Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West” (“La fanciulla del West”) and 1918 premiere of “Il Trittico” (“The Triptych”).

The opera, featuring a libretto by Tutino and Fabio Ceresa, is based on Alberto Moravia’s 1958 novel “Two Women” and perhaps better known 1960 film by Vittorio De Sica, which gave Sophia Loren her first big hit in the U.S. and an Oscar for best actress.

The libretto adds to the wartime story about a strong-willed widow Cesira (soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci) and her daughter Rosetta (soprano Sarah Shafer) struggling to survive amid Allied bombing and Moroccan troops from the French army pillaging and raping their way through villages while fighting Italians and Germans.

“You cannot have a tenor and soprano in love without a baritone as the villain,” says Tutino, describing the added major character Giovanni (baritone Mark Delavan), who contrasts with the idealistic Michele (tenor Dimitri Pittas).

Stage director Francesca Zambello says the 70-year-old story still feels current, with women today imperiled in countless armed conflicts around the world: “History teaches us lessons, we just don’t always listen,” she says.

IF YOU GO

Two Women (La Ciociara)

Presented by San Francisco Opera

Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 7:30 p.m. June 13, June 19, June 23 and June 30; 2 p.m. June 28

Tickets: $32 to $370

Contact: (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com

Janos Gereben

Recent Posts

Lyft, Uber drivers protest sudden deactivations

A dozen or so Lyft and Uber drivers protested outside Lyft’s corporate headquarters Wednesday morning and called for the company…

1 hour ago

Hillsborough man to serve 9 years for conspiring to sell night-vision rifles to Russia

A 69-year-old Hillsborough man was sentenced in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday to nine years in prison for conspiring…

3 hours ago

Pioneering SFMTA exec put agency on firm financial footing

Sonali Bose is a Muni rebel with a cause. She may not wear a leather jacket and ride a motorcycle,…

16 hours ago

Operating the Muni Metro subway at full capacity

On Nov. 9, 2018 the San Francisco Examiner (“Muni to speed up purchase of new Muni trains to ease commute…

16 hours ago

Wildfires underline need to diversify California’s water supply

Fast burning fires, aided by strong, east winds and low humidity, devastated the Butte County community of Paradise over the…

16 hours ago

Middle school PE teacher on leave following sexual harassment claims

A Physical Education teacher at Aptos Middle School has been placed on administrative leave and dozens of other teachers are…

16 hours ago