Le villi

Pier Francesco Maestrini directs a new staging of Giacomo Puccini’s first great success, an opera brimming with the impetuous ardour of youth 
Riccardo Frizza conducts the Teatro Regio Orchestra and Chorus

Teatro Regio, 19–26 April 2024

The Teatro Regio continues its centennial tribute to Giacomo Puccini, bringing on stage his debut work Le Villi, an opera that, at its world premiere at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan in 1884, immediately highlighted the young composer’s ability to create intense melodies and powerful symphonic compositions. After its premiere, the opera was reworked in record time into an expanded version staged at the Teatro Regio in Turin in 1884. This new staging of Le Villi—the first since the standing ovation it received one hundred and forty years ago—will be performed under the baton of Riccardo Frizza, a specialist in the repertoire, conducting the Teatro Regio Orchestra and the Chorus led by Ulisse Trabacchin. The new production is directed by Pier Francesco Maestrini, a Florentine-born director who has brought to the stage, since his opera debut in 1993, more than one hundred productions worldwide, ranging from the Baroque to Italian verismo. For his first production at the Teatro Regio, Maestrini has chosen to explore the otherworldly dimension of fairies and demons. His vision is premised on the idea that it can be deceptive to think that Puccini was inspired for his opera-ballet Le Villi by Adolphe Adam’s ballet Giselle, because the music brims with all the impetuous ardour of his youth, unrestrained by the prudence of maturity, with the intent to shock audiences. The cast stars Roberta Mantegna in the role of Anna, Martin Muehle as Roberto, and Simone Piazzola as Guglielmo Wulf. The curtains will open on the new production on Friday, 19 April at 8p.m., with six shows running through to Friday, 26 April.

Born in Brescia, Riccardo Frizza studied at the Milan Conservatory and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena and is considered one of the leading conductors of his generation. Since 2017 he has been music director for the Donizetti Opera Festival in Bergamo. In June 2021 he won the Ópera Award for Best Music Director for his Lucia di Lammermoor, staged at the Bilbao opera house. In 2022 he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir. He returns to the Teatro Regio after conducting the Gala Concert marking the fiftieth anniversary of the reopening of the theatre.

The role of Anna is brought to life by Palermo-born soprano Roberta Mantegna, who returns on stage in Turin after her compelling performance as the Duchess Elena in I Vespri Siciliani in July 2023. “With her forthright, smooth timbred voice and powerful phrasing […] she is a complete and solid artist, with the ability to manage her energy” (L’Ape Musicale). Debuting alongside her in the role of Roberto is tenor Martin Muehle. Guglielmo Wulf, Anna’s father, will be performed by Simone Piazzola, one of the leading baritones of his generation, twice winner of the Premio Abbiati critics’ award—in 2015 for his performance in the role of Simon Boccanegra and in 2019 for his recording of Messa per Rossini for Decca, conducted by Riccardo Chailly.

Alternating in the main roles: Laura Giordano (Anna), Azer Zada (Roberto), and Gezim Myshketa (Guglielmo). The new staging features set designs by Guillermo Nova, costumes by Luca Dell’Alpi, choreography by Michele Cosentino, and lighting design by Bruno Ciulli

Originally conceived in one act, the opera-ballet Le Willis premiered to a full house at the Teatro Dal Verme on 31 May 1884, attracting wild acclaim by critics and audiences alike. Puccini wrote to his mother, “An astounding success. Eighteen curtain calls. Three encores of the first finale. I am so happy.” For its subsequent staging at the Teatro Regio in Turin on 26 December 1884, the opera was reworked by the composer into an extended version, featuring new arias and a new orchestral intermezzo, as well as a new title, Le Villi. It was a triumph, applauded by the audience for the skilful weaving of Wagnerian elements into the Italian tradition. Other memorable performances then followed, in Hamburg in 1892, conducted by Gustav Mahler, and at the Metropolitan in New York in 1908, with Arturo Toscanini on the podium. The story is based on a Slavic myth, narrated in a work by the German poet Heinrich Heine, but it was Théophile Gautier, together with Vernoy de Saint-Georges, who brought the tale to a wider audience with Giselle ou Les Willis, a romantic ballet set to music by Adolphe Adam and written for Carlotta Grisi in 1841. The librettist Ferdinando Fontana was undoubtedly familiar with both sources, however it seems likelier that he based his own version on the 1852 short story Les Willis, by French writer Alphonse Karr. Set in a small village in the Black Forest, it tells the tale of Anna and Roberto, two fiancés engaged to be wed, but when Roberto is obliged to go to Mainz to collect an inheritance, he betrays and forgets his bride-to-be. Heartbroken, the young woman dies and is transformed into a wili, a malign and supernatural being, who takes her revenge on her unfaithful fiancé by compelling him to join in a frenetic, infernal dance until he dies at her feet.

The Under30 Preview will be staged on Thursday, 18 April at 8p.m.

To mark the centennial of Giacomo Puccini’s passing and the first modern staging in Turin of his opera Le Villi, on Friday, 19 April the Piccolo Regio Puccini will be hosting the commemorative conference The Debut of a Genius. The Early Years of Giacomo Puccini. Featuring speakers Andrea Balestri, Virgilio Bernardoni, Gabriella Biagi Ravenni, Francesco Cesari, Elisabetta Fava, Federico Fornoni, Adriana Guarnieri Corazzol, Alessandra Palidda, and Marco Targa, and a special appearance by Carlo Carignani, grandson of the eponymous musician and friend who worked closely with Puccini. The conference is organized by the Centro Studi Giacomo Puccini and the Teatro Regio.

Tickets for Le Villi are on sale at the Teatro Regio Box Office 
and online at www.teatroregio.torino.it

Teatro Regio Box Office
Piazza Castello 215, Turin | Tel. +39 011 8815241 / +39 011 8815242 | biglietteria@teatroregio.torino.it
Opening hours: Monday–Saturday, 11a.m. to 7p.m.; Sunday, 10:30a.m. to 3:30p.m.;
one hour before show times

For full information and updates: www.teatroregio.torino.it

Follow Teatro Regio on our social media channels.

Turin, 2 April 2024


Ufficio stampa Teatro Regio
Direzione Comunicazione e Stampa - Paola Giunti (Direttore), Sara Zago (Ufficio Stampa) - Tel. +39 011 8815 239/730