CIN CI LA’
If the landmark couple in Italian light music in the prewar period was Bixio and Cherubini, light opera in the same period owes its fortune to another exceptional duo: Lombardo and Ranzato, the former a musician, librettist and impresario from Naples, the latter a famous violinist from Venice. It’s primarily due to them that the extraordinary genre of operetta became truly ‘Italian’. And Cin Ci Là is one of the most resounding successes in their repertoire. Presented for the first time in Milan on 18 December 1925, it’s an exotic fable set in Macau, an unusual setting for a story that conveys a moral that’s totally European and, seen from today’s perspective, gently provincial.
Misunderstandings and fun, an explosive cocktail ensuring plot twists, moving duets, scenes of passion and brilliant quips: Cin Ci Là is perhaps the only Italian operetta in which tenor and soprano get applauded mid-scene not only for their high notes, but also for their searing witticisms. This is why Cin Ci Là – Carlo Lombardo’s favourite production – has been so well-loved for eighty years: with its delicate style it’s the very model of Italian light theatre. A model that still has the same enchanting grace as it had at the outset.
The Macau-set story of Myosotis and Ciclamino, naive young newlyweds ignorant of the most basic duties of marriage, and the preposterous Parisian couple Cin-Ci-Là and Petit-Gris lends itself to ironic interpretation, with some truly hilarious gags and one-liners, suitable for audiences of any age.
Perhaps the funniest and most outrageous operetta of all, whose brilliant one-liners, persistent misunderstandings, gags and music have been performed more than 200 times by the company, to great acclaim from audiences and critics, thanks to the comic talent of the entire cast.
In the Chinese city of Macau, the wedding is planned between Princess Myosotis, daughter of Prince Fon Ki, and her cousin Prince Ciclamino. The bride and groom are still in the throes of childhood and have no real idea of what marriage is; they continue to lead a life of dolls and games.
In the period between the wedding and the conception of an heir, however, the custom is that all leisure activities and enjoyment is temporarily suspended.
In this very period, the brilliant French actress Cin-Ci-Là arrives in Macau with her lover Petit Gris, who is madly in love with her and follows her everywhere.
Cin-Ci-Là and Petit Gris become teachers of the art of love to the naive newlyweds; their hilarious lessons ultimately send the innocent Myosotis into the arms of her Ciclamino.