Ritratto – the Italian word for ‘portrait’ is the title of a new opera by Willem Jeths, the first Laureate Composer of The Netherlands (2014-2016), who was fascinated by a painting depicting Luisa Casati. The opera will be performed by DNO in March in Amsterdam…
The young orphaned and married, excessively wealthy Italian Marquesa Casati strove to be seen throughout her life. She was famous for the exuberant parties she organized. She allowed herself to be portrayed or photographed by numerous artists. With her black-rimmed eyes, her flaming red hair and eccentric behaviour she tried to gain a place in the art world.
Against the background of the war, librettist Frank Siera questions the importance of art. At a feast of Casati, Siera brings together all sorts of artists from the time of Casati. At the time, it was the futurists who paved the way for fascism with their art. Casati does not engage with secular problems and focuses on her passion. In the opera she goes even further than in real life; by not seeing, she tries to be seen herself.
Ritratto’s composer Willem Jeths – from 2014 to 2016 the first Laureate Composer of The Netherlands – likes to play with orchestral colours and carefully chooses the timbres that suit his characters when he writes an opera: ‘I am convinced that music can be stronger and more expressive if you can identify with it’.
Design and libretto
The performances of director Marcel Sijm are surprising and often full of humour, with a major role for exuberant design. His collaboration with set designer Marc Warning in Legend was a fine example of this. For Ritratto, Marc Warning once again designs the set. We can look forward with excitement to the costumes of Jan Taminiau for Ritratto. He is known for the blue cloak that Queen Maxima wore during the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander. The brand-new libretto is by the young writer and director Frank Siera, who graduated from the Toneelacademie in 2012, and who wrote not only for De Nationale Opera but also for Veenfabriek, KASSETT, Operafront and De Queeste.
Amsterdam Sinfonietta has been the only professional string orchestra in the Netherlands for thirty years and performs all over the world. The ensemble, which consists of 22 strings, is led by violinist and artistic director Candida Thompson. The repertoire includes a variety of musical styles, from baroque to contemporary.