Pinocchio

PINOCCHIO
Opera in two acts by Pierangelo Valtinoni
Libretto by Paolo Madron based on “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi
English Version by Benjamin Gordon

Over the past decade children’s operas have established a foothold in dozens of the medium and larger German houses. Every few years an opera comes along which stands out from all the rest, raising the bar by which all other children’s operas are judged. In 2006 Pierangelo Valtinoni’s Pinocchio began a three year sold-out run at the Komische Oper in Berlin. This opera – seen by over 50,000 people – completely transformed the genre, setting new expectations for all children’s operas that followed in its wake. Since then Pinocchio has been performed at opera houses in Hamburg, Leipzig, Moscow, Turin and Vicenza.

Valtinoni’s style fuses Italian lyricism with infectious rhythms. Although the seven lead roles in Pinocchio are taken by adults, in it Valtinoni elevates the role of the children’s chorus from a simple backdrop to the backbone of the work so that each of the seven scenes highlights the chorus in a new capacity. Along with the great melodies it is this dynamic use of the children’s chorus which makes the opera so engaging and appealing. After conducting Pinocchio in Hamburg it was an immense pleasure to create an English version.

Pinocchio was instantly a hit with the audience, concluding with ten minutes of raucous applause, with shouts of approval and stamping feet. This is the complete opposite of naturalistic theater; this is pure magic. Illusion is created not by distorting reality, but by widening the gap thereto. The tantalizing allure of fairy tale opera lay in this aesthetic paradox. Valtinoni follows in the footsteps of the great masters of fairy-tale operas: there is a nod to Ravel in the sparkling arpeggios emanating from the piano to the pizzicato strings and the plaintive woodwinds. However Valtinoni’s music is more straightforward and catchy, à la Bernstein or Puccini. Valtinoni’s wafting harmonies bank on copious sevenths and ninths. He embraces traditional musical forms; what is more fitting for a fox than a foxtrot? The lesson is clear: Adults are the architects of their children’s world, and such confidence-building music certainly makes for reliable building materials. (Jan Brachmann, Berliner Zeitung, 11.08.2006)

Pinocchio Soprano
Geppetto Bass
The Fairy Soprano
The Cat Mezzosoprano
The Fox Tenor
Mangiafuoco Bass
Lucignolo, Two Men-at-Arms, Harlequin, Pulcinella, Innkeeper, Snail, Dr. Crow, Dr. Owl, Four Rabbits,
Tuna Fish Children Solists
Talking Crickets, Puppets, Children, Fish Children’s Chorus

Photos from the World Premiere at the Komische Oper Berlin (November 6, 2006) Copyright: Monika Rittershaus
Musical Director: Anna-Sophie Brüning
Stage Director: Jetske Mijnssen
Set Designer: Benita Roth
Costumes: Christine Mayer

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