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Subject: Re: best Zia Principessa and why?
From: "William A. Fregosi" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William A. Fregosi
Date:Wed, 25 Jun 2003 16:32:51 -0400
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At 09:24 AM 6/25/2003 -0700, Sirje Aleksandra Viise wrote:
>It seems a challenging role, because many singers might prefer to rely
>heavily on chest voice, and also because just playing Bitch has it's
>artistic limits, even though the text and music might suggest to many
>people that this woman is pure coldness or malevolance.

In fact, "just playing bitch" would probably make for a most unsuccessful
characterization.  From the Principessa's viewpoint, she is shepherding
the family and looking out for its best interests according to the highest
and most respectable of standards.

I don't think the music and text actually DO suggest "pure coldness and
malevolence."  The tone warms and the vocal line relaxes as she describes
Angelica's sister Anna Viola--the "good" sister, the one who didn't "sin" and
who will conform to the role society has defined for honest women.  And
then there is the extraordinary passage where she speaks of communing
with her sister, Angelica's mother, while at prayer.  And I don't think there
is a single reason to doubt her statement that no effort was spared to save
Angelica's son once he had fallen ill.  Clearly this is no cardboard "villain"
but a poewrful and complex woman doing her level best to live according
to the rules she has been taught within the mores of her time.  She is, in
fact, an almost exact female equivalent to Giorgio Germont in TRAVIATA.
That her mission is to wrest from a "fallen" woman something that will make
the future marriage of a young girl at home secure may seem insensitive and
cruel today but it would have been a hot button issue at the time in which the
story is set.  Angelica is a sinner and has given scandal according to the
teachings of her Church and in the eyes of secular society.

Neither Germont nor the Principessa can be considered a "villain"--they find
themselves committed to a course of action that is unpopular because we
have been taught by events preliminary to their arrival to regard the
heroine as
wholly sympathetic.  But by their own moral codes they are doing what must
be done and doing it effectively.

With this in mind I will say that I, as others have decided, would advocate the
performance of Fedora Barbieri.  She presents a believable noblewoman on a
delicate and difficult mission and gives more than a glimpse of her human, even
compassionate side.

Bill Fregosi



William Fregosi
Technical Coordinator For Theater Arts          (617) 253-0862
Massachusetts Institute of Technology           [log in to unmask]

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