7 marzo 2023
by Guendalina Dainelli

What an opera, Maestro!

Raffaella Carrà 
Raffaella Carrà 

“I asked myself: who is worthy today of Lucia, Norina, Elisabetta and all the other female heroines of Donizetti's works, they who would stop at nothing to fulfill their desires? Ready to do anything for their freedom? The answer that came to me was crystal clear: Raffaella Carrà.” This idea is from Francesco Micheli, artistic director of the Donizetti Opera festival, who will be at the helm of ‘Raffa in the Sky,’ an actual opera commissioned by the Donizetti Theater Foundation for 2023— the year of Bergamo Brescia Italian Culture Capital —to the composer Lamberto Curtoni, based on a libretto by Renata Ciaravino and Alberto Mattioli. This project is entirely financed by private supporters and will feature the voice of Chiara Dello Iacovo and the famous dynamic and reckless conductor of world premieres Carlo Boccadoro. Author and director Micheli loves challenges that are next to impossible, like the Donizetti Nights, combining the piazzas of the composer's birthplace Bergamo with the dissemination of his works.

Pop and elite cultures next to each other, plastically represented by the gigantic red velvet curtain that will open in the city center on occasion of the event.

“Opera began as a popular art form. It hurts to see that it is no longer that of the golden age, a factory of myths that talked about the present time through characters that tended to be uncomfortable by questioning the audience on major human and ethical issues.”

Raffaella, even causing a scandal by baring her navel, was the queen of popular national TV, an incredibly versatile character loved by all and internationally. The eroticism of her songs is playful and close to innocent. Doesn't it seem excessive to define it as revolutionary?

“Her revolution did not come from a scandal. Why does one have to be dead to be successful? She made a revolution with her smile. Several authoritative commentators seem scandalized by my project. Is the queen of Tuca Tuca worthy of a sumptuous tale told with an opera? If anyone has doubts about it, then this project was necessary to set things right. Her famous moves during choreographed scenes are anything but trivial.

Released from eighteenth-century backcombing, leaping from theater to TV, showgirls like Raffaella became free to show their hair, as did all women. There are currently women in Iran who die for showing their hair. From her hair to her navel, Raffaella brought into the spotlight parts of the female body that have become symbols of a revolution. It was a self-conscious and emotional process and a doubly audacious one, as it reached people’s homes, where bringing about a revolution is more difficult.”

How does opera fare in comparison to the present time? Why does today’s audience find it removed from its sensibility?

“Opera is very contemporary. Think about what it did for women’s enfranchisement, emancipation, and liberation from stereotypes. From Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro to Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Verdi's La traviata, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly, these are all stories of women who would like to be free to do what they want, in a world where it was impossible to do so. They were very powerful themes aimed at the general public. Then, after Puccini's death, opera became a selective art form with avant-garde composers giving up on its bond with the audience. Nonetheless, the goal of this art form is to speak to people and break taboos.”

There is already a Musical dedicated to Raffaella Carrà, as well as a TV series. How does this new work compare with everything that has been produced on this artist’s luminous career?

“Raffaella is a major performer of our times and it is only right that she is paid tribute. Opera is my passion and as an artist and cultural operator I feel the duty to support it. Musicals come from opera; they have dialogues as well as songs. However, music holds primacy in opera; it is the main means of narration, unfolding in a grandiose way with voices and instruments. It goes straight to the soul, it speaks to everyone, it is universal, which is why it remains the most widespread form of live entertainment in the world.”

Sergio Japino, who was close to Carrà for many years, has approved the project

“Absolutely. He said he was sure that Raffaella would be intrigued, flattered and excited. After all, we know that she loved opera, as she was the author of the Gran Concerto of Rai 3, featuring the Rai National Symphony Orchestra playing pieces of classical and operatic music to a huge audience of children. Now it's her turn to be the star, on stage at the Donizetti Theater in Bergamo next September.”

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