Pinocchio, Opera by Pierangelo Valtinoni
Pierangelo Valtinoni’s Pinocchio is an ideal way of introducing the young to the magic of live opera. Full of delightful fairy-tale characters, children who go to see the work performed at the Volksoper Wien will be utterly enchanted by everything that happens on the stage.
Composed to a libretto by Paolo Madron based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio, burattino di talento (Pinocchio, the Talented Puppet) was first seen at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza on 5 May 2001. Valtinoni then shortened the opera’s name to just Pinocchio, but extended its length from one act to two. This new version, premiered at the Komische Oper in Berlin on 5 November 2006, enjoyed an uninterrupted three-year run at the theatre.
Pinocchio, despite being a puppet, has no need of strings; he can walk and talk just like any other boy. His creator, the woodcarver Geppetto, packs him off to school, but Pinocchio goes to the local marionette theatre instead. Its director, Mangiafuoco, desperate to find new stories for his shows, sends Pinocchio away to find them.
On his travels, Pinocchio is robbed. Left with no money to pay for his food and nowhere to stay, a fairy finds him half-frozen to death. The fairy brings him back to life, but when she asks him how he came to be in such a sorry state, he lies fearing she will think him a fool. His nose starts to grow and the fairy warns him of the consequences if he doesn’t start telling the truth.
Pinocchio continues on his way. He cannot resist the lure of the land of the idle where no one need work or study. However it’s all an illusion, the invention of a wicked sorcerer who then transforms his captives into donkeys. Distraught at his appearance, Pinocchio dives into the sea, only to be swallowed whole by a shark. There, in the beast’s belly, he finds Geppetto who has wandered the world looking him. Now it’s up to Pinocchio to prove his true worth.
Critics have praised Valtinoni for his lyricism and the echoes of Puccini, Ravel and Bernstein in his music. With a narrative that can be appreciated at many different levels, Pinocchio, the opera, is also storytelling at its very best.