ALICE TULLY HALL, LINCOLN CENTER
Cantori New York Chorus
With its première at the Teatro Lirico di Milano on November 10, 1900, Leoncavallo's Zazà, starring Rosina Storchio (Zazà), Edoardo Garbin (Milio), Mario Sammarco (Cascart), and Clorinda Pini Corsi (Anaïde) conducted by Arturo Toscanini, began its triumphant run of performances in opera houses around the world.
Over the next twenty years it received over fifty new productions from Palermo to Paris, Buenos Aires to Moscow, Cairo to San Francisco, arriving at The Metropolitan Opera on January 16, 1920 in a production directed by David Belasco and conducted by Roberto Moranzoni, starring Geraldine Farrar, Giulio Crimi and Pasquale Amato, and later Giovanni Martinelli and Giuseppe DeLuca.
Farrar's sensuous Zazà was an immediate success and the opera was repeated at The Met twenty times over the next three seasons, culminating in Farrar's farewell performance in the role on April 22, 1922, which was also, strangely enough, the date of its last performance in New York.
Farrar was not the only famous diva to call the role her own. Following Storchio, Gemma Bellincioni, Emma Carelli, Hariclea Darclée, and the beautiful Lina Cavalieri also sang the role and later on, Mafalda Favero, Clara Petrella and Denia Mazzola Gavazzeni added their interpretations.
The reason is clear: the role of Zazà demands everything of a singer—stamina, for she sings almost continuously throughout all four acts; vocalism of the highest order demanding the full range of dynamic shading and expression; a presence of charm and allure; and superb acting skills.
The story of the opera concerns the French music hall singer, Zazà, and her affair and subsequent decision to leave her lover, Milio, when she discovers that he is married. The score is rich with the colorful details of the French music halls where Leoncavallo had spent his early years as a composer. Although the opera is perhaps best known for its baritone arias, "Zazà, piccola Zingara" and "Buona Zazà del mio buon tempo," Milio’s aria "O mio piccolo tavolo" and Zazà's arias "Lo sai tu che vuol dire" and "Mamma! io non l'ho avuto mai" are equally memorable.
Now, the most famous verismo singer of our day, in the grand tradition of the divas of yesteryear, undertakes one of verismo's most challenging roles. With her seamless legato, Italianate color, beauty of voice, and dramatic commitment, Aprile Millo has triumphed in the world's great opera houses—the Metropolitan, La Scala, the Arena of Verona, Teatro Colon, Munich, Berlin, Moscow, Vienna and Paris—and Teatro Grattacielo is indeed honored to present this acclaimed artist in this exciting role.
In an amazing synchronicity, in September 1968, Maestro Alfredo Silipigni conducted Zazà at the Teatro Lirico di Milano, the house in which the opera had premièred sixty-eight years earlier. Now, at a distance of 105 years from that première, the directors of Teatro Grattacielo are extremely honored to have Maestro Alfredo Silipigni at the helm once again, leading an international cast of outstanding young singers with the grand operatic diva of our day, Aprile Millo, as Zazà.