Duettino of Wolf-Ferrari and Hazon in Venice

A delightful “duettino” of one-act operas at Venice’s Teatro Malibran. The composer of the first of these, Roberto Hazon, was unfamiliar to me. Born in 1930, he wrote in an easy, tonal melodic style, sharpened up with occasional dissonances, glissandi and strong rhythmic accents. His music is somewhat reminiscent of William Walton. Agenzia matrimoniale, first performed in 1962, is an amusing, in places touching, tale of a woman who, working in a theatre, idolizes great actresses and dreams of herself as one of them. When fate suggests to her that she will find love and marriage through a dating agency, her encounter there with an apparently distinguished gentleman becomes an opportunity to engage in theatrical fantasy. In the end it turns out that he is an insurance salesman but since she has to reveal that she is only a cloakroom attendant equilibrium is restored. Soprano Gladys Rossi acquitted herself well in the main part.

Il segreto di Susanna is a better known piece by Wolf-Ferrari. A slight but entertaining work in which a woman’s secret which arouses the jealousy of her husband is simply the enjoyment of cigarettes. The music is altogether more brilliant than Hazon’s, reflecting as it does Wolf-Ferrari’s mixture of Italian and Germanic origins. Conducted with sprightliness by Enrico Calesso, it also profited from first-rate performances by Arianna Vendittelli and Bruno de Simone as the marital pair.

What contributed most to making the whole evening an undoubted success was  the aesthetically pleasing production of Bepi Morassi. Simple, with a predominantly bare stage, and with action lit against a mellow coloured background, it used a few scenographic images – for example, a line of fin-de-siècle female costumes to represent the actress fantasy. All in all, an attractive, entertaining double-bill.