Bomarzo, Op.34 (Vocal score)
  • Bomarzo, Op.34 (Vocal score)

Bomarzo, Op.34 (Vocal score)

Alberto Ginastera
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Bomarzo is an opera in two acts by Alberto Ginastera whose 100th birthday was celebrated by the musical world in 2016. The Spanish libretto was written by Mujica Laínez, based on his novella from 1962 about Pier Francesco Orsini, the Duke of Bomarzo and an eccentric in 16th-century Italy. In his music, Ginastera makes use of twelve-tone technique and quarter tones, the latter primarily in the harp parts. The two acts of the opera encompass a prelude and 15 scenes. The first performance scheduled for 4 August 1967 in the composer's native country of Argentina caused a scandal. Argentina's then president Juan Caro Onganía banned the performance without further ado because he objected to the sexual content of the story. As a consequence, the Argentine premiere of this opera did not take place until 1972, with the composer in attendance.


The Duke of Bomarzo drinks a magic potion that his astrologer Silvio de Narni claims will make him immortal. Instead, it is a fatal poison. As he dies, the stunted hunchback Bomarzo relives his tortured existence through a series of flashbacks. His father drags him into a haunted room where a large skeleton dances and menaces him. Later, his father is mortally wounded in battle. The young man, still a virgin, is sent to the courtesan Pantasilea in Florence, but the reflection of his horrid image in her room of mirrors disturbs him. His brother Girolamo falls from a cliff and dies. The new Duke meets Julia Farnese, but is angered when she prefers his brother Maerbale. In a macabre dance festival, erotic and terrifying dreams pass before the Duke. Still courting Julia, he spills a glass of red wine on her dress and interprets it as a premonition of death. After their marriage, Bomarzo finds himself impotent. As years go by, he becomes convinced that Julia is unfaithful with Maerbale. He orders his slave Abul to kill his brother. Silvio mixes the magic potion while Bomarzo's nephew Nicolas watches. The boy poisons the drink. Bomarzo drinks it and dies.
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