Photo: Stefano Corso


Composition Commission issued to Lucia Ronchetti

Oper Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany


In Inferno, or Hell, Spring 1300 sees the start of the literary journey of the Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri to the other world described in his work the “Divine Comedy”. Here the wanderer meets numerous figures from the realms of myth and history that are located in the different circles of hell depending on the sins they have committed. These circles form a spiral that leads in steps to the center of the earth where Lucifer fell at the beginning of time. Dante is the explorer of this underworld and the creator of a fantastic literary journey. In illustrative detail he describes, among other things, the descent of human nature.

It is on this first part of the Divine Comedy that the new opera composition by Lucia Ronchetti and supported by the EvS Music Foundation is based. Alluding to a variety of musical traditions Lucia Ronchetti creates a consistent musical thread in which the opera’s dialog passages are also embedded. While the protagonist Dante articulates himself loudly and clearly in German, the passages presented by a vocal quartet and a choir appear more enraptured due to their being sung in Italian. An epilog is dedicated to the character of Lucifer. This is a bass solo accompanied by a string quartet and based on a text that is formulated in a kind of nonsense language. This epilog comes from the pen of Italian author Tiziano Scarpa, who wrote a novel in an artificial language inspired by southern Italian dialects. Dante himself was a trained musician familiar with musical theory. In the Inferno the poet refers to many sound effects and interventions that one could describe as soundscapes. Added to this is the human voice in varied manifestations: as a cry of pain, crying, cry of anger etc. – Lucia Ronchetti picks up this theme. The unconventional make-up of the orchestra as a purely brass and percussion ensemble contrasts with the solo nature of the strings. Every so often the music draws itself back to make way for the spoken voice. Dante’s vision of a depraved world and the punishment awaiting that world in the Hereafter raises burning questions that find expression in the music.


April 18, 2020
May 17, 2020
Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt am Main, Germany


Further information: