The resurrection of an opera
The audience at the Konzerthaus Berlin responded to Berliner Operngruppe’s performance of Pietro Mascagni’s opera “Iris” with applause and cheering lasting several minutes. After two Verdi operas, the evening saw the staging of another rarely performed opera from the Bertelsmann-owned Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan. At Bertelsmann’s invitation, the ambassadors of France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, the broadcaster ARD’s Secretary General Susanne Pfab; Georg Pfeifer, head of the European Parliament’s liaison office, and various envoys, chargé d'affaires, and counsellors from the Italian, Israeli, Belgian, French, and Czech embassies were among the audience at the Konzerthaus. After the performance, 200 guests joined the opera soloists for a reception at Bertelsmann Unter den Linden 1 in Berlin.
First performed in 1898, Pietro Mascagni’s “Japanese” opera “Iris” was a great success for the music publisher Giulio Ricordi at the time, but later sank into oblivion. To this day, many original documents relating to “Iris,” including the handwritten score, are housed at the Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan. It was not until the new millennium that the opera was rediscovered. A few years ago in Berlin, the Neuköllner Oper staged the work as a reduced chamber opera under the title “Iris Butterfly.” Tuesday’s performance of the unabridged version by the Berliner Operngruppe opera troupe was one of the first (semi-)scenic performances in Germany in over a century. The Berliner Operngruppe is a private initiative that has been dedicated to the performance and rediscovery of rare Italian operas for ten years. It has had Bertelsmann’s support in this process since 2017.