Post Cards from the Edge Marco Tutino’s Two Women (La Ciociara) - War Memorial Opera House San Francisco, June 19, 2015, 7:30 pm | Welcome to Fred’s Home Page

Marco Tutino’s Two Women (La Ciociara) - War Memorial Opera House San Francisco, June 19, 2015, 7:30 pm 

This is the world premiere of San Francisco Opera's production of Two Women by Marco Tutino.  I read where the conductor Nicola Luisotti was instrumental in getting SFO to take this on. It has received mixed reviews in the press and I feel that although the opera has promise, it needs reworking. 

For long stretches there was no action or singing on the stage waiting for the music to finish.  It seemed at times the story line did not know where to go and so the director decides to fill the gaps with orchestration (or perhaps Luisotti).

The story line is adapted from the book La Ciociara by Alberto Moravia and from the movie with Sophia Loren.  War and rape are the major emphases of the opera with an underlying morality play about doing anything to save your skin, something at which most countries are adept. 

In essence, Cesira, the mother, and Rosetta, the daughter, are trying to get out of Rome because of the bombing by the allies.  Giovanni wants Cesira and during an air raid, rapes her.  Cesira now demands Giovanni get her out of Rome and back to her home village.  She tells Giovanni that in front of her daughter “it’s as if nothing happened."

Cesira and Roseeta make it to her home village and finds no one wants two more refugees.  However, the village school teacher Michele helps her and Rosetta and things are looking up.  However, an airman, John Buckley is shot down over the village and needs help.  Anyone helping the allies is immediately shot by the Germans and the villagers want no part of helping the downed airman.  Michele, however, renders assistance.  In appreciation, John Buckley asks him to deliver a letter to his wife in case he is captured by the Germans or dies.  He provides a watch as proof of who he is and in the letter says the person who delivers the letter is a friend and provided aid.

Giovanni returns to see Cesira and Michele seemingly have established a relationship (which they haven’t) and in a jealous rage, plots to turn Michele in to the Germans.  He finds Michele’s pack which contains the letter and the watch.  Michele, Rosetta and Cesira return to Rome and ask for help from Michele’s old mentor Pasquale Sciortino.  Unbeknownst to them, Giovanni has reported them to Fodor Von Bock, a Nazi officer.  He’s waiting at Sciortino's who has been forced to participate in the betrayal of his mentee.

A comic interlude in the opera is Maria Sciortino, the mother of Pasquale, who is constantly bringing out food to the table only to find her guests disappearing.

Rosetta and Cesira return to the village after Michele is taken in for questioning.  Von Bock allows Giovanni to determine the fate of Michele since Von Bock is not interested.  Michele refuses to leave Cesira and Rosetta and Giovanni shoots him.

Back at the village, liberating Moroccans seize both Rosetta and Cesira and rape them in the church.  

Giovanni leads an American contingent into the city (he’s changed sides) and Rosetta and Cesira are so shocked from the rape, at first they do nothing.  However, Giovanni explains to the village how he saved the downed airman John Buckley.  The village is believing until John Buckley appears.  He has survived without capture and he accuses Giovanni of duplicity since he gave the watch and letter to Michele.  The watch and letter in Giovanni’s possession seal the deal.  The village beats Giovanni.  Cesira is left to try to pick up the pieces and console her daughter.  She tells her daughter “it’s as if nothing happened.” 

The performers were excellent but the production just somehow missed.  Anna Caterina Antonacci was excellent as Cesira.  She was interviewed for the program and explained how everyone in Italy knows the book and the movie and how much it influenced her career.

The image is from the web site for San Francisco Opera.

© Fred Searcy 2017