Maestro Massimo Morelli, professor at the Boccherini Conservatory in Lucca, Italy, is considered one of the foremost experts of Giacomo Puccini’s music. He went to Odesa on Dec. 16, 2023 and spent a week there, giving a masterclass on Puccini operas for singers of the Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.

The prestigious musical institution reopened to the public in the summer of 2022 and has been offering musical performances almost every evening since then, despite the ongoing war.

At the conclusion of the masterclass, the Theatre invited him to conduct “Madama Butterfly” on Jan. 21, 2024.

“It was bolt from the blue that filled me with pride, because it allowed me to express my professionalism and the great passion that has always linked me to the most illustrious composer from Lucca [Puccini], in one of the major Ukrainian opera houses, with a capacity of more than 1,700 spectators,” the maestro told the Italian newspaper Il Tirreno.

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Maestro Massimo Morelli.

The management of the Odesa opera house proposed to Maestro Morelli to continue the collaboration with the Theatre to improve the singers in all its Italian opera repertoire, which includes not only Puccini’s masterpieces, but also the works of Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and Mozart (many of whose operas are in Italian, as well).

The playbill of the Odesa Theatre has been mostly Italian since its inauguration in 1887, when Italian music ruled over the cultural life of the city, also due to the influential Italian community. In those times, musicians and singers often came to Odesa. It was during one of those tours that the musician Eduardo Di Capua composed the song “O sole mio,” inspired by the view of the Black Sea.

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This type of twinning with the prestigious Conservatory of Lucca is a precious opportunity for the Opera Theatre to increase its international visibility, which has been on the wane since the times of the Soviet Union, due to the regime’s aversion to international collaborations.

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Massimo Morelli is a pianist, orchestra conductor and professor at the Boccherini Conservatory in Lucca. He was brought to Odesa on the initiative of the impresario Enrico Copedé, an Italian living in Ukraine for 12 years and founder of the music agency Opera Productions.

During his visit Maestro Morelli also met the rector of the Nezhdanova Odesa National Music Academy (ONMA), Prof. Oleksandr Oliinyk. Also known as the Odesa Conservatory, the ONMA was founded in 1913 and is one of the most important institutions of higher musical education in Ukraine.

Following the meeting, the Boccherini Conservatory will offer a scholarship to some Ukrainian music students to study in Lucca. Morelli proposed staging an opera at the Odesa Theatre with young voices, selected among ONMA students.

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