Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Refice, and Hidden Verismo

The premiere of Margherita da Cortona,at La Scala in 1938

Licino Refice
Refice. Not a name we normally associate with Verismo, or even Italian opera, except for the most ardent operaphiles of the most exacting taste. Licino Refice was born in 1883 and died in 1954, and being not only a composer, but a priest, wrote more than 30 masses and other sacred works. A song, "Ombra di Nube," was considered a classic at the time, and was recorded by the woman for whom he wrote it, Claudia Muzio. Lyrics were by Emidio Mucci, to whom I assume I am related, as all Muccis seem to come from the Abruzzi (even though he was born in Rome).

An opera, Cecilia, was produced in 1934, and made quite a splash at the time. It was being revived in Rio di Janiero in 1954, when Refice died during one of the first rehearsals.  The opera that interests me more, however, is Margherita da Cortona, which premiered at La Scala in 1938 -- not a great year for Italian opera, and not a great year for Italy, but a late-flowering of some wonderful works, and revival of others. Margherita was played by Claudia Muzio at the première, (and Mucci wrote the libretto, mirabile dictu).

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