Catapult Opera’s spring 2021 production will be the U.S. premiere of Nadia Boulanger’s recently-discovered opera La ville morte, with a symbolist libretto by Gabriele d’Annunzio. Boulanger, the most important pedagogue of the 20th century and arguably the most influential female in the history of music, wrote the opera in 1909 along with her contemporary Raoul Pugno. Its premiere was scheduled to occur in 1914, but with the outbreak of World War I, the performance was postponed indefinitely. In 1917, the warehouse which housed the score and parts was bombed and all the materials were destroyed, with the exception of the piano-vocal score which had been stored elsewhere. In 2005 the opera received its world premiere in Siena, Italy with an orchestration by Mauro Bonifacio.
I feel that the spirit of La ville morte would be better served by a sparer orchestration, and to that end we have commissioned - with the blessing of the International Centre Nadia et Lily Boulanger - a new chamber orchestration by Stefan Cwik and Joseph Stillwell, under the supervision of David Conte, who was among Mme. Boulanger’s final protegés. The scoring will be for 11 players: string quintet, wind quintet, and piano.
La ville morte will be directed by Robin Guarino and conducted by Catapult’s Artistic Director, Neal Goren.