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Getting closer to the truth behind the “mysterious opera”?! How to enjoy Handel’s “Scilla” 120%

“謎に満ちたオペラ”の真相に迫る?! ヘンデル《シッラ》を120%楽しむ方法

Go, see and feel the world of art
File.24 Kanagawa Prefectural Music Hall “Scilla”
Miyuki Inoue (Magcal Editorial Department)

Handel's opera ``Scilla'' is based on the latter half of the life of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a dictator who lived in ancient Rome. Although the script and score remain intact, it is unclear whether it was performed in theaters at the time, and it is said that it is a work that is rarely performed even in modern Europe. From an amateur's point of view, I think, "Is that because it's poorly made?" (sorry!).
This mysterious opera will be performed at the Kanagawa Prefectural Music Hall. Prior to this, a lecture concert entitled ``Handel's Mysteries and Opera Scilla - Stories of Ancient Rome'' was held. This is a chance to get closer to the world of opera, which I felt was too difficult to enter! I decided to go out with a long-held dream in mind.

The lecture started with ``'Scilla' as seen from the script'' by Ms. Suwa, who works as a translator for the Handel Society of Japan. First, listen to the synopsis and introduction of the characters.
Even so, the main character, Schilla, is a terrible person. He does his best to harass his friends' wives and lovers, and when they are treated coldly, he and his wife are both demoted. However, the theme is also said to be the subject of Mozart's opera ``Lucio Silla,'' so perhaps it is a typical ``tyrant'' story.
Although Suwa says, ``The story unfolds too suddenly and ignores the theory too much,'' he seems to be attracted to the structure and unique scenes.
``Although it lacks emotionality, the ideas that go beyond the framework of a sentimental opera are interesting.The characters are also drawn vividly, albeit roughly, so I don't think it's the worst script by any means.'' Masu"
I see. I started to think that the story might be more interesting if there was a "bad guy".

Next up was ``Scilla in History and Politics'' by Tadashi Mikajiri, a member of the Handel Society of Japan and a Handel scholar.
First, I was surprised to hear that, ``In this era, opera was a means of making political statements and appealing to the legitimacy of royal power.'' However, if you compare the era in which ``Scilla'' was written with the actual chronology, and then apply real people to the characters, it certainly fits perfectly.
The issue of succession to the British throne and the War of Spanish Succession in the first half of the 18th century. As you unravel the history, the world of opera takes on a more realistic color. The idea is similar to that of Japanese ukiyo-e and kabuki, in that if a politician criticizes a critical plot, one can just say, ``No, it's just a piece of history.''

Although it was meticulously written, there is no record of it ever being performed, and Mikajiri concludes that it was never publicly performed. why?
This is because in the real world, John Churchill (Silla), Duke of Marlborough, has fallen from power, and there is no longer any need to criticize his tyranny. In a sense, it may be that the work has become outdated.
It may seem like a bit of a waste, but don't worry, much of the music was later used in the opera Amadigi. At that time, this type of "reusing" was not uncommon.

Lastly, Masami Hara, music director of the Handel Society of Japan, will talk about ``The music of Silla and its charm.'' They will receive a lecture on opera's structure, composition process, and sound effects, along with a demonstration by harpsichordist Akiko Ito.
Unfortunately, I didn't know much about music. However, what was interesting was that the expression of the music changed greatly depending on the tempo of the performance.
Many of the songs in ``Scilla'''s score do not have tempos indicated, which leads Hara to speculate that ``they probably weren't performed after all.'' So, how do you decide on the tempo for the actual performance? There are apparently many ways to do this, such as thinking from the script or referring to songs that have been used in other operas, but since this is just a guess, there is no one answer.
Mr. Hara proposed two tempos with different interpretations as an "experiment." It was sung by Mariko Higuchi (soprano) and Ayumi Yokomachi (mezzo-soprano).

I was surprised to hear it! Even though it's the same music, just a different tempo can change the nuance so much. Music is so deep...
In the main performance of ``Scilla'', I wonder if music director and conductor Fabio Biondi will decide the tempo for each song. It's a very interesting piece of work, and I'm kind of happy that it's being premiered in Japan.


*Handel (1685-1759)

It seems that many of the operas of Handel's time had complex stories and were difficult to understand. In that respect, ``Scilla'' is extremely simple and compact. Still, it's packed full of beautiful and appealing music, so even beginners can enjoy it.
``Scilla'' was not performed at the time due to various ``adult circumstances''. I definitely want to experience it in Yokohama in 2020, 300 years later.

This event has been cancelled.
Handel's "Scilla" in 3 acts
[Performance date] Saturday, February 29, 2020, Sunday, March 1, 2020
[Starting time] 14:00 (Doors open 13:00) *Pre-talk available from 13:15
[Venue] Kanagawa Prefectural Music Hall
[Music Director] Fabio Biondi (conductor, violin)
[Performance] Europa Galante
[Appearance]
Schilla: Sonia Purina (contralto)
Claudio: Hilary Summers (contralto)
Metella: Seunghye Im (soprano)
Lepido: Vivica Juneau (Mezzo-Soprano)
Flavia: Roberta Invernizzi (soprano)
Ceria: Maria Hinojosa Montenegro (soprano)
God: Michael Bols (baritone)
[Director] Tadashi Miroku
[Art] tamako☆
[Costume] Mariko Friendship
[Lighting] Naoto Inaba (ASG)
[Script/subtitle translation] Asako Motoya
[Stage Director] Yutaka Osawa (The Staff)
[Price] S seat ¥15,000, A seat ¥12,000 (few seats remaining), B seat (SOLD OUT), Student (under 24 years old) ¥8,000
[Inquiries] Kanagawa Prefectural Music Hall Tel. 045-263-2567

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