What a surprise! I have to admit: I love, love, love it! A romantic fairy tale about an old king, who is thrown off the throne by his rival, and about his son who falls in love with the daughter of his father’s rival.
After some complications (there is also a real bad guy) everything goes well: Alfonso and Estrella get married and the old king gets his throne back, which he then promptly hands over in favour of the young couple. And there is also a moral: a really big man forgives his enemies.
The music is very beautiful. No, it’s not a masterpiece, but still … it’s unmistakably Schubert. There are a few incredibly beautiful ballads: a song by Froila about the cloud girl, for example. Or a touching ‘Wo ist sie’ by Mauregato, who thinks he has lost his daughter.
Eva Mei, Rainer Trost, Alfred Muff, Markus Werba and Jochen Schmeckenbacher play and sing exceptionally well, and I also think the staging (directed by Luca Ronconi) is a great success. In a setting of string instruments only, the opera is played out two-dimensionally: on stage and on the platform behind it, where puppets play the scenes.
In the first act the singers are dressed in evening dress (suggesting a song recital?), in the second and third act they wear period costumes from the region (Spain in the eighteenth century).
The opera was recorded in 2004 in Cagliari, an opera house that is not afraid of unknown repertoire.