L’Isola Disabitata

opening night: August 17th, 2009

Costanza is on the verge of completing an inscription on a rock next to her cave about how she was abandoned on the deserted island by Gernando. Her young sister Silvia, alone, watches a ship arrive and runs to ask her sister what monster swims and flies at the same time. Her way is blocked by Gernando and his friend Enrico, and she hides, not being able to overhear their conversation. Both had been captives of pirates, Gernando seized on this very beachyears ago. They split up to search the island. Silvia has managed to get a good look at Enrico. She marvels as well at a new kind of fear that causes gladness.

Gernando discovers the inscription and believes Constanza dead. Enrico comes upon Silvia who, learning he is a man after all, pleads for her life, but he wins her trust and they part to fetch the other couple. Constanza arrives. When Gernando appears she faints and he hurries to fetch water from the stream. Enrico enters and explains all to her; Silvia arrives with Gernando, having explained everything to the sailors after they had seized him. 

The chamber opera treats a beloved theme in the 18th centruy: nurture versus nature. While Siliva represents the “noblesse sauvage”, Costanza is clearly the offspring of the western society. The parts where Silivia and Enrico appear on stage are light and more in the style galant, while Costanza and Gernando have arias that seem to point back at the opera seria.

 During the Grachtenfestival 2010 this little gem in the oeuvre of Joseph Haydn (the “happy end” choir features a very interesting obligato cello solo) was staged in Felix Meritis at the Amsterdam Canals. Next to the only object on stage (a cupboard sunk in the sand, used as rock, hiding place and as projection screen for the subtitles), the four singers and the orchestra joined in a very open staging.

 link to Operamagazine.nl (Dutch).