As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway”. Who in their right mind, you may ask, would form a new opera company when Italy is juggling to balance its books and many theatres are playing to less than full houses? Well, the founding members of the association Coin du Roi – all under-30 – must have been more than a little apprehensive when they studied the possibility of doing such a thing, but they've saddled up and on 28 May, they will grab the reins and set off on this new adventure.
Coin du Roi is the first private opera company in Italy for at least the last two hundred years. History shows us that our structure is an efficient one, that of the palchettisti [individually owned boxes in the theatre] which we propose today in the form of a membership which will create a new type of cultural patronage,
says the Musical Director, Christian Frattima.
The association's idea is to focus on Baroque opera; a form flourishing outside Italy but in the homeland of many of its composers, often overlooked in favour of the Classical period onwards.
It will be the first Italian company to specialise in the 18th Century repertoire, the first private company to perform fully-staged works and the first company to use a philological approach to the scores. Frattima explains,
For example, from studying the manuscripts you can see how Handel divided the basso continuo. This has opened new horizons to us as it creates a stereo effect, which helps to immerse the listener in the music.
The opera chosen to launch the company and its first season is Handel's Serse, an opera not seen in Milan since a production at La Piccola Scala more than sixty years ago. Vilija Mikštaitė, Jud Perry and Viktorija Bakan lead the cast in Valentino Klose's production. Klose is Coin du Roi's Artistic Director. It can be seen on 28 and 29 May at the intimate theatre of the Palazzo Litta, one of Milan's finest Baroque buildings, and the city's only court theatre.
This will be followed by Mozart's Il re pastore during October in Alessio Pizzech's production with Maria Laura Martorana, Philip Mathmann and Elina Shimkus in the cast. In December, the final production of the first season will be Pergolesi's La serva padrona and Livietta e Tracollo; Olivier Lexa will direct a cast headed by Aurora Tirotta and Carmine Monaco. All the operas are under the baton of Christian Frattima.
The Teatro Litta has a lively season of straight plays. However, Gaia Calimani, the theatre's public relations director, said,
We are happy that this new venture will restore opera to our theatre, no mean achievement as we are used to the smaller budget requirements of straight theatre. We too are a private company and so we understand the difficulties and excitement of such initiatives.
One of the reason in choosing May 2015 for launching the company is the presence of the Expo in Milan, which opened on 1 May, and will still be on for the run of the second opera before the Expo closes its gates at the end of October.
After the Milan performances the operas will go on to the Teatro Goldoni in Venice with its 800-seater Victorian auditorium, though it was founded in the 17th Century, and the Teatro di Chiasso in Switzerland.
The company stresses that despite the rigorousness of the musical approach, the productions won't be lifted from a museum,
We're not running away from progress, but searching for an intelligent artistic fusion between the past and the present.
And as their blurb proudly states,
Coin du Roi is in other words much more than an opera company: Coin du Roi is an answer to the crisis of culture in Italy.
For more about the company, the season and booking tickets visit the Coin du Roi website
For Crowdfunding information visit Eppela
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.