'I masnadieri is an adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s (1759-1805) early and seminal play Die Rauber; a quintessential expression of the romantic spirit, a wild, violent work written in secret by a 19 year old Schiller when he was still a student at a brutal military academy In Stuttgart. It’s also a problematic piece, (as is Verdi’s setting of it) in that the plot is full of wild improbabilities, inconsistencies and one dimensional characters, not least the characterisation of the only female character, Amalia. All of this youthful raw energy and high drama are faithfully captured in Verdi’s early score although Andrea Maffei’s (1798–1885) libretto emphasises the attendant dramaturgical problems of the original play.
Thinking about a way to create a world where the illogicalities of Maffei’s text can make sense and a design, we’ve focussed on the brutal environment of the military academy Schiller attended, the Karlsschule in Stuttgart. It’s a framework where the violent and rebellious fantasies of the cadets at the school are seen to explode but also a world where reality and fantasy can co-exist and blend as we want, helping to make logical the wilder inconsistencies of the opera. Carlo/Schiller is a character we want to split into two, played by both an actor and the tenor, the singer being the romantic projection of the boy’s fantasies. Amalia, in this context becomes literally a creature of the imagination; the only female character in a world of men she embodies all the fantasies and dreams a young man denied knowledge and experience of women. This seems to fit with the highly individual music Verdi has given this character, created by Jenny Lind, and singing a musical language almost from another era. The all-male Chorus represent the military society the academy feeds with its cadets, the young cadets themselves portrayed by actors. The period of the production will be, obliquely, 18th century, Schiller’s age of "Sturm und Drang.”
We hope to project the opera forcefully as a psychologically convincing drama.
The La Scala visit has been made possible by a substantial grant by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.
The visit is also sponsored by LocalTapiola and Andritz.
Conductor: Michele Mariotti
Stage director: David McVicar
Stage designer: Charles Edwards
Costume designer: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Choreographer: Jo Meredith
Lighting designer: Adam Silverman
Chorus master: Bruno Casoni