Libretto by Mark Campbell
(Also available in two-piano version)
Ortensia, Eustacia, soprano *
Amadora, Ettalina, Stelladora, mezzo-soprano *
Bastianello the Younger, Lambent, tenor *
Bastianello the Elder, Frediano, Ippolito, Lino, baritone *
* Characters may also be cast separately
Run Time 40 minutes
Oboe (English Horn)
..arresting in its expressive force. - The New York Sun
...Musto’s lacework music transforms the story into something delicate and bittersweet. - New York Magazine
Like his full-length opera, Volpone—commissioned by WTOC a few years back and recently transformed into a Grammy Award-nominated recording—John Musto’s Bastianello wraps itself around an amusing series of encounters derived from several versions of an old Italian folk tale.
Bastianello opens and closes with the narrative of Bastianello the younger (tenor Rodell Rosel), a college student who reminisces about the early married days of his dad, Luciano (Alexander Tall).
Infuriated by a foolish mistake committed by his young bride Amadora (mezzo Faith Sherman), Luciano lights out for the territories. He vows not to return until he’s encountered six numskulls who exceed Amadora in stupidity. His mom, Ortensia (soprano Rebekah Camm), more or less approves. But Amadora’s dad, Bastianello the elder (bass Nicholas Masters) is appalled.
Luciano eventually encounters three sets of idiots. Their unbelievable cluelessness is eventually set aright by his practical advice. Except for the final idiot who proves to be something more—someone who has actually learned the meaning of life through his tragic mistake.
Musto’s music cleverly provides the psychological backdrop of this tale. The accompanists weave a magical, contemporary tapestry of sound behind the singers, providing hints of what is going on beneath their frequently banal statements and observations.
But perhaps the most moving music here is in scene 6 in which Luciano confronts the ultimately wise fool, Lino, at the edge of a lake on a moonlit night. Here, the younger man discovers that Lino’s apparently goofy behavior is in fact his compulsive atonement for a foolish criticism that indirectly caused the demise of his wife. Musto’s vocal lines and ghostly instrumental backdrop become like a musical eclipse, transforming light into dark, evoking a genuinely poignant moment of tragedy and unbearable loss. It’s a magical, heartbreaking moment that instantly transforms this little opera into something much more than light entertainment. - The Washington Post
Bastianello was written as a double-bill with Lucrezia by Mark Campbell and William Bolcom