Personalities | Luigi Dallapiccola | Modern Era | Opera
At the forefront of Italian serialism, Dallapiccola was inspired to compose after attending a 1924 performance of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (‘Moonstruck Pierrot’, 1912); he made a complete analysis of Schoenberg’s 12-tone system and used this when writing his first one-act opera, Volo di notte (‘Night flight’, 1940), based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book Vol de nuit. Unfortunately, just as Dallapiccola’s music was reaching a wider audience, he had to limit performances to neutral countries due to the threat faced by his Jewish wife in the face of Europe-wide anti-Semitism. This resulted in his post-Second World War political statement, Il prigioniero (‘The Prisoner’, 1949), which expressed a prisoner’s point of view via Dallapiccola’s own libretto and a score that employed three 12-tone rows symbolically connected to elements of the opera.
Job (1950), written when Dallapiccola was travelling and lecturing in America, was yet another one-act opera; his final composition, Ulisse (‘Ulysses’, 1968), was his only full-length work. Performed at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, this sombre and unwelcoming score did not gain the critical plaudits that the composer had hoped for. He then dedicated himself to writing about his work.
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