Long-Lost Opera Discovered off the Coast of Sicily

Mt. Etna, the Sicilian volcano as temperamental as an opera diva, may have helped save Vincenzo Bellini's lost first opera from destruction.(Photo: scotbot (Flickr))
Mt. Etna, the Sicilian volcano as temperamental as an opera diva, may have helped save Vincenzo Bellini's lost first opera from destruction.(Photo: scotbot (Flickr))

Opera lovers have the Sicilian volcano Mt. Etna to thank for preserving the manuscript score of what is believed to be Sicilian composer Vincenzo Bellini’s long-lost – and now recently discovered – first opera, according to a report on WQXR’s Operavore blog.

The Feb. 27 discovery occurred near the Italian village of Vambolieri as archaeologists were excavating some of the so-called lava tombs – “cases” of hardened lava from Mt. Etna’s eruptions – created below the surface of the waters near Mt. Etna. The once molten lava cooled around objects in its path, preserving them, sometimes in pristine condition, in air-tight cases. The manuscript score of Bellini’s opera Pesci d’Aprile (Fishes of April) was found in a lava tomb containing a postal boat once bound for Naples but that disappeared.

Bellini’s letters reveal that he sent his only copy of the score of Pesce d’Aprile to Naples in an effort to gain admission to the Naples Conservatory and that the postal boat carrying the score had disappeared.

The Teatro Bellini, in the composer’s hometown of Catania, says it will produce the opera as soon as orchestral parts can be copied from the score.

Read more: Lost Bellini Opera discovered in Sicily (Operavore)

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