Filumena

Filumena. Two-act full-length opera sung in English and Italian, completed in 2003 by composer John Estacio on a libretto by John Murrell. The opera, co-commissioned by Calgary Opera and The Banff Centre, was premiered 1 Feb 2003 in Calgary's Jubilee Auditorium, conducted by Bramwell Tovey.

Filumena

Filumena. Two-act full-length opera sung in English and Italian, completed in 2003 by composer John Estacio on a libretto by John Murrell. The opera, co-commissioned by Calgary Opera and The Banff Centre, was premiered 1 Feb 2003 in Calgary's Jubilee Auditorium, conducted by Bramwell Tovey. It was later presented at the 2003 Banff Summer Arts Festival. The cast, directed by Kelly Robinson, comprised Laura Whalen (Filumena), Gaétan Laperrière (Picariello), Gregory Dahl (Lassandro), David Pomeroy (Stefano), Krzysztof Biernacki (Lawson), Elizabeth Turnbull, Torin Chiles, Graham Paynter and Jacqui Lynn Fidlar.

Based on actual events, the opera opens in the Crowsnest Pass region of Alberta in 1915 at the wedding of Italian immigrant Filumena Costanzo to Charlie Lassandro. But Filumena is romantically drawn to Stefano, the son of Emilio Picariello, who runs the local illegal liquor trade. Filumena gets involved in the bootlegging operation, and one day she and Emilio are told that Stefano has been shot in an altercation with the police. In retaliation, the pair confronts and kills Constable Lawson. Picariello and Filumena are jailed for murder, and the opera closes as Filumena is sent to the gallows - she was the only woman to be hanged in Alberta.

Estacio's score, which can best be described as neo-Romantic, includes not only arias and ensemble pieces but also music from the period, including ragtime piano and bagpipes.

Filumena was presented at the National Arts Centre 28 and 30 Apr 2005 with some personnel changes; notably, Frédérique Vézina played Filumena. In Nov-Dec 2005, Edmonton Opera staged the work, with Michael Meraw replacing Paynter, Christine Ledig in place of Fidlar, and Keith Boldt in place of Biernacki, with Robert Dean conducting. According to Steven Mazey in Opera Canada, the response to the opera has been enthusiastic, and, as one Calgary reviewer stated, the ovations were "the longest and most sustained in more than 25 years" (Opera Canada). Filumena was broadcast on CBC Radio in April 2003 and July 2006, while the Edmonton production was featured on CBC television in 2006.


Further Reading

  • Bergman, Brian. "Calgary Opera's Filumena," Maclean's, 27 Jan 2003

    "Filumena Draws National Attention," Prairie Sounds, Spring 2003

    "Opera Filumena Switches to More Intimate Calgary Venue," CanWest News, 1 Aug 2003

    Mazey, Steven. "Opera Knocks 'em Dead," The Ottawa Citizen, 23 Apr 2005

    Mazey, Steven. "New Productions/New Roles," Opera Canada, Vol. 46/2, Summer 2005