Le Femmine d’Italia

By Rachel Bimonte (Roger Williams University)

The flood of spectators rushed in, the lights dimmed and the bows hit the strings of the violins. This was the beginning of The Italian Woman in Algeri Opera at the Opera di Firenze.

The orchestra sounded from the pit for the first ten minutes of the Opera and then all of the sudden, the curtain lifted and the colors of the show were revealed. There were blues and pinks and oranges on the clothing of the performers and the background and floor–it was a beautiful burst of hues that filled the audience’s eyes.

The performer’s voices were loud and projecting: some soprano, some bass and tenor. With each introduction of each character came more sounds, more colors and more emotions.

The beginning of the opera was very male based. Mustafá was in high control and gave his wife, Elvira away because he did not want her anymore and claimed to not love her anymore. He wanted a new woman in his life–an Italian woman.

This seemed easy right, set your weeping wife free to have a new and exciting woman in your life? It could have been, during this time period (1800s) but not if the new and exciting Italian woman was Isabella.

With Isabella’s introduction to the performance the entire mood of the opera changed. This was now a girl power opera. Isabella was so strong and had such a presence on stage that she even made the great Mustafá listen to her and obey her.

It was rare for this time period that a performance or even a story or novel would end with the praise of a woman but this opera did.

Isabella showed that women can be just as tricky and tough as men and even have a little flare.

Not only was the opera sung beautifully but the meaning behind the words were comedic, light hearted and easy to follow along.

The performers had a range of qualities–at times they sang very fast or very slow, they were loud and forceful but could be soft and they could change their pitch from low to high.

The atmosphere of the Opera di Firenze would make any spectator feel comfortable and at home–almost like they were watching this performance in their living room.

All of the aspects of the play: the performers, the plot, the musicians and conductor in the pit and the lively spectators came together to make this an enjoyable Italian opera that English speaking spectators could follow along too with the English and Italian subtitles.

Performances like these remind the world why gender equality is so important and will forever be significant. For now, let’s all give thanks to Le femmine d’Italia, for this brava performance would not be possible.

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