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L’aviatore Dro di Francesco Balilla Pratella

Giulia Albertario


This essay analyzes the only futurist lyric opera of aerial subject ever written, L’aviatore Dro by Francesco Balilla Pratella, premiered, after a long gestation, on September 4th 1920 at the Teatro Rossini in Lugo di Romagna. It is a tragic poem in three acts on a libretto by the same author that interprets a recent story happened in Lugo as a modern myth: a wealthy provincial dandy, tumbled down because of gambling, had joined the aviation and had lost his life in flight. Even though the première received critical and public acclaim, and Marinetti himself supported the opera and promoted it among many impresari to set up new repeats, L’aviatore Dro was staged again only in 1996. As a consequence, today it is still mentioned in the literature only as evidence of the many provocations and oddities of Futurism. This is due to some from inner contradictions of the opera, so that scholars have debated if this opera could be legitimately considered as ‘futurist’, since its author is equally divided between the impulse of renovation and the attachment to the musical traditions of his land, Emilia Romagna. The music does not show the newness in style that futurist manifests had proclaimed. The libretto is the main target for those critics who have misunderstood the real meaning of D’Annunzio’s influences. The true innovations, as Marinetti confesses in his Taccuini, are more importantly to be searched in the ideological implant that sustains the opera and in its scenic design, about which we have poor knowledge.

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