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At The Opera

Sly, by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari

This week, the Metropolitan broadoacasts and opera called Sly. No, it's not the life story of Sylvester ("Sly") Stallone. Actually, it's an intriguing work, written in the 1920's, by Ermannoo Wolf-Ferrari.

As you might guess from his name, the composer was of combined German-Italian heritage -- to be specific, he had a Bavarian father and a Venetian mother. And his name isn't the only place where this dual background is apparent. His music reflects it, aw well. He was born in Italy and his operas are in Italian. Yet, he was more popular among German-speaking opera fans than Italians. This led to a sort of schizophrenic career that was complicated by the composer's difficulty in dealing with the tensions of World War I, in which the countries of his ancestry were on different sides.

Perhaps all of this contributed to the unexpectedly disturbing nature of Sly, which is experiencing a bit of a revival. The opera's subtitle is, Legend of the Awakened Sleeper. The title character is one Christoper Sly, who is kidnapped and deceived, for purposes of a cruel hoax, and then slits his wrists when confronted by reality.

For more, check out the links below. And stop by next week. We'll have a program on Alban Berg's Lulu, the final presentation on the Met's broadcast season.

LINKS

More on Wolf-Ferrari

The Metropolitan Opera

Synopsis of the opera


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