Music: First-Class Piccalilli

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) was a 20th Century composer with 18th Century ambitions. In most of his 13 operas (best known: The Jewels of the Madonna, Secret of Suzanne), he aimed for classic form and comic elegance. At his best, he came close to being the poor man's Mozart; at his broadest, a kind of roughhewn Rossini. Last week he was Manhattan's newest opera hit.

New York City Opera resurrected his old (1906) three-acter, I Quattro Rusteghi, never before performed in the U.S. Decked out in an English translation, The Four Ruffians made up in broad mirth anything it lacked in old-school elegance.


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