Oscar Wilde never finished his play A Florentine Tragedy, an unsettling little story of the attempted seduction of a merchant’s wife by the local prince, and that prince’s death at the hands of her jealous husband, who comes home early in the piece to find them together. Alexander Zemlinsky’s challenging score makes this intense short opera a fairly tough listen, but packs in gallons of tension. Yole Lambrecht’s dramatic design dresses the stage with the fabric of Simone’s trade, huge swags of velvet and silk in red, gold and pink plunging from ceiling to floor to create a luxurious, sensual atmosphere. Costumes take a twist on modern clothing to recall the story’s Renaissance setting: Bianca’s long, sheer, black negligee is bolstered by a stiff corset, producing a ghostly image of an historical gown, while Guido Bardi’s purple silk shirt and cravat scream tasteless, pointless luxury.
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Part of the Opera in the City Festival
Rating: 3 stars