La Commedia is an opera in five parts composed by Louis Andriessen. A retelling of Dante's Divine Comedy, the multi-language libretto was constructed by Andriessen using extracts from Dante's poem as well as several other sources including the Old Testament and the poetry of Joost van den Vondel. Andriessen describes the work as a "film opera" and collaborated closely with film director Hal Hartley in its development. La Commedia premiered on 12 June 2008 at the Koninklijk Theater Carré in Amsterdam.
|Opera by Louis Andriessen|
Following its Amsterdam premiere, La Commedia was performed in 2010 in concert version but with the same cast and musicians at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Carnegie Hall in New York. It received a further concert performance in London at the Barbican in 2016 performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Cristina Zavalloni and Claron McFadden reprising their original roles as Dante and Beatrice. The opera won the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and in 2014 the recording of the premiere production was released on CD and DVD.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, 12 June 2008|
(Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw)
|Casella, Dante's dead friend||tenor||Marcel Beekman|
|Chorus of men and women, chorus of children|
Ivan Hewett of The Telegraph wrote, “Like all Andriessen’s best pieces, this showed a man constantly engaged, in the most passionate terms, with the unfathomable dichotomies of human life; passion versus rationality, matter versus spirit, life and death.” Andrew Clements of The Guardian rated the Dutch National Opera set four out of five stars and argued, “The tone is wonderfully varied – sometimes profoundly serious, sometimes wildly exuberant or irreverent – matched to a score that is equally diverse and eclectic.” In the Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed lauded it as a “profoundly moving, if slyly unsentimental, meditation on life, love and death [...] it is Andriessen’s “Italian” opera and has the depth, musical richness and (I predict) lasting power of late Verdi.” Swed praised “the humor, the ingratiating jazziness, the terrible fury and, in the end, the ravishing grace of the later scenes.“ In a 2019 poll of critics and editors of The Guardian, the opera was ranked the seventh greatest classical composition of the 21st century, with Clements referring to the score as “wonderfully polyglot”.
- Swed, Mark (20 June 2008). "'Commedia' is more than a little divine". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- May, Thomas (2010). "Program notes: La Commedia". Los Angeles Philharmonic. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- Kozinn, Allan (16 April 2010). "Dante's Unearthly Story Updated for the Stage". New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- Hewett, Ivan (15 February 2016). "Louis Andriessen - Total Immersion / La Commedia, Barbican, review: 'a beacon in contemporary music'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- Grawemeyer Awards (29 November 2010). "Dante-inspired opera wins Grawemeyer Award". Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- Clements, Andrew (2 July 2014). "Andriessen: La Commedia review – a rich, important achievement". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- Dutch National Opera. La Commedia. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
- Clements, Andrew; Maddocks, Fiona; Lewis, John; Molleson, Kate; Service, Tom; Jeal, Erica; Ashley, Tim (2019-09-12). "The best classical music works of the 21st century". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-10-12.
- Andriessen, Louis: La Commedia (2004-08). Boosey & Hawkes (scoring and synopsis)
- Allenby, David (2008). "Louis Andriessen interview: Creating La Commedia". Boosey & Hawkes