Introducing Serena Farnocchia aka Boston’s Elisabetta

Rossini’s rarely heard opera Elisabetta Regina d’inghilterra will appear in Boston for two performances thanks to OdysseyOpera. We are fortunate that an accomplished Italian singer, Serena Farnocchia  will take on the title role. She was generous enough to take time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. Don’t miss these performances on March 13 and 15.

Q. Please tell us a little about yourself. Is this your first Rossini role? If not which other ones have you sung?

A. I’m a Tuscan singer,born and grown up near Lucca,I studied at the  Young Artist Program at Teatro alla Scala  in Milano and I won the Pavarotti voice Competition.

This is not my first Rossin role; I have sung in  Stabat Mater,Petite Messe solennelle ,Viaggio a Reims (Madama Cortese),Guillaume Tell (Mathilde)and now Elisabetta Regina d’Inghilterra.

I also sing  Mozart,Donizetti,Verdi, and Puccini.

Q. Elisabetta is such a rarely performed opera. How do you prepare such a role?

A. I’m very happy that OdysseyOpera asked me to sing this role,Is a very beautiful and difficult.

It is  the first work of Rossini’s Neapolitan period and the first great role created by Isabella Colbran. It’s such an honour for me to interpret it.

I prepared the role respecting the original score,but trying to personalizes. How do you do so  in this type of repertoire,to make the text dramatic?

To do this I referred to historical performances such as Leyla Gencer, my teacher at Scala Accademy, and Monserrat Caballe.

Q. The “historical” Elisabeth was a complex character. Rossini doesn’t quite stick to history. Does your understanding of the historical Elisabeth have any influence on how you approach this role?

A. The personality of Elisabeth’s character is not diminished even if the context of Rossini libretto is pure historical fiction. Elisabeth’s dramatic strenght remains such in emotions and musical writing. With director Sharon Daniels we are working in this direction.

Q. The Italian critic Roberta Pedrotti has written a book ( available only in Italian) about Rossini’s women ( that is, female characters in his operas) where she finds strength in most all of them. What do you feel are Elisabetta’s strengths, if any?

I think she was a very strong woman! To be a Queen,who decides not to marry in that historical period means being a woman with great inner strength and a very high political sense of one’s role. There is always a debate between reason of state and reason of the heart…but the reason of state always wins. 

Q. Is this your first visit to the United States? What are your hopes that the audience will experience?

No, I sang others times in United States:I sang in San Francisco, in Santa Fe, in Chigago, and I always found  American audiences enthusiastic about Italian opera. I hope that will be the same thing here in Boston with this amazing opera.