Long Ago in Spoleto: 10-11 September 1864

September 10 and 11, 1864: after a decade of complex restoration works, the newly-opened Teatro Nuovo in Spoleto is about to welcome an extraordinary two-day event of music and dance.

The absolute protagonist of the program, specifically prepared for the glittering occasion, is the young Bohemian soprano Teresa Stoltz, a crystalline talent, endowed with prodigious vocal extension, who had made her debut in Tbilisi only a few years before. Having recently returned to Italy, where she had perfected her singing studies, she performs in Verdi’s “Trovatore” in Spoleto, just a few months after her Italian debut in Turin. In the most prestigious encyclopedias and in the texts dedicated to the history of opera, the date of Spoleto is often mentioned as one of the first, significant stages of a career that, continued at La Scala and launched by the consecration of the Italian premiere of Don Carlos in Bologna, was to lead Stoltz to become Verdi’s dramatic soprano par excellence.

The two dates at the Teatro Nuovo promise not only great moments of opera singing, but also two significant dance soirees, included in the program to complement the musical performances: two ballets choreographed by Cesare Cecchetti, Enrico’s father, one of the great masters of 20th-century dance. The two choreographic fantasies are “Picot and Robin, i.e. the two jesters” and “La Contessa d’Egmont“, the latter ennobled by the presence of the famous dancer Amalia Ferraris, in Spoleto in one of her last performances, five years before retiring from the scene.

The folder in which the poster of the event is kept – part of the material belonging to the photographic archives of the Library at Palazzo Mauri – also contains a sketch and a reproduction of Francesco Coghetti’s drawing for the theatre’s curtain, a scene of vigorous, plastic composition that represents one of the most illustrious and evocative episodes in the history of Spoleto: the strenuous and courageous defense of the city besieged by Hannibal, a battle that resulted in a victory for the Spoleto people and that led to the defeat of the Punic leader and the flight of the Carthaginians.


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