Based on actual events, the opera opens in the Crowsnest Pass region of Alberta in 1915 at the wedding of Italian immigrant Filumena Costanzo to Charlie Lassandro. But Filumena is romantically drawn to Stefano, the son of Emilio Picariello, who runs the local illegal liquor trade. Filumena gets involved in the bootlegging operation, and one day she and Emilio are told that Stefano has been shot in an altercation with the police. In retaliation, the pair confronts and kills Constable Lawson. Picariello and Filumena are jailed for murder, and the opera closes as Filumena is sent to the gallows - she was the only woman to be hanged in Alberta.
Estacio's score, which can best be described as neo-Romantic, includes not only arias and ensemble pieces but also music from the period, including ragtime piano and bagpipes.
Filumena was presented at the National Arts Centre 28 and 30 Apr 2005 with some personnel changes; notably, Frédérique Vézina played Filumena. In Nov-Dec 2005, Edmonton Opera staged the work, with Michael Meraw replacing Paynter, Christine Ledig in place of Fidlar, and Keith Boldt in place of Biernacki, with Robert Dean conducting. According to Steven Mazey in Opera Canada, the response to the opera has been enthusiastic, and, as one Calgary reviewer stated, the ovations were "the longest and most sustained in more than 25 years" (Opera Canada). Filumena was broadcast on CBC Radio in April 2003 and July 2006, while the Edmonton production was featured on CBC television in 2006.
Author Colette Simonot
Bergman, Brian. "Calgary Opera's Filumena," Maclean's, 27 Jan 2003
"Filumena Draws National Attention," Prairie Sounds, Spring 2003
"Opera Filumena Switches to More Intimate Calgary Venue," CanWest News, 1 Aug 2003
Mazey, Steven. "Opera Knocks 'em Dead," The Ottawa Citizen, 23 Apr 2005
Mazey, Steven. "New Productions/New Roles," Opera Canada, Vol. 46/2, Summer 2005
Links to Other Sites
The website for the award-winning Canadian opera “Filumena.” Features an overview of the opera and biographies of composer John Estacio and librettist John Murrell.
A tale of operatic success: Filumena
About the new opera, which was jointly created by Calgary Opera and the Banff Centre and premiered in Calgary in 2003. From the Canada Council for the Arts.
The website for renown classical composer John Estacio. Features a biography, discography, and audio clips of his music. Also, click on "List of Works" for "Programme Notes" of the opera "Filumena" and more.
A biography of John Estacio, composer of the opera Filumena. Also offers a synopsis, biographies of participating artists, and more. From the "Alberta Scene" website.