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

A’s open final home series of 2018 against Twins

By Alex Hall Special to S.F. Examiner AKLAND — The Oakland Athletics have enjoyed an incredible 2018 season, with 92…

50 mins ago

Shooting victim drives himself to SFGH

A victim with a gunshot wound drove himself to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s front door Friday afternoon shortly after…

1 hour ago

Five things to watch: San Francisco 49ers travel to Kansas City

By C.J. Peterson Special to S.F. Examiner In another tough road test, the San Francisco 49ers will be tasked with…

1 hour ago

Benicia man arrested, linked to rapes in six Northern California counties

A Benicia man who worked for 25 years at the University of California, Berkeley was arrested Thursday in Berkeley on…

2 hours ago

City asks court to validate parcel tax funding teacher salaries, preempt legal challenges

The San Francisco City Attorney’s office filed a preemptive lawsuit Friday asking the court to validate the passage of Proposition…

3 hours ago

Reuben Foster’s return is chant-worthy for San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA -- As he walked into various team meetings throughout this week -- full-squad, defense, special teams -- San Francisco…

4 hours ago