Perelà, uomo di fumo

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Perelà, uomo di fumo (Perelà, man of smoke) is an opera in ten chapters composed by Pascal Dusapin. Dusapin himself wrote the Italian libretto, based on the novel, Il codice Perelà by the Italian Futurist writer, Aldo Palazzeschi. The opera had its world premiere on 24 February 2003 at the Opéra Bastille, conducted by James Conlon.


Role Voice type Premiere cast[1]
24 February 2003
(Conductor: James Conlon)
Perelà tenor John Graham-Hall
Old woman contralto Martine Mahé
Marchesa Olivia di Bellonda mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch
Alloro, a valet bass) Scott Wilde
Alloro's daughter coloratura soprano Chantal Perraud
Pilone, a philosopher (bass) Gregory Reinhart
The Queen soprano Youngok Shin
The Archbishop countertenor Dominique Visse
Rodella, a banker bass-baritone Nicolas Courjal
President of the Tribunal bass Scott Wilde
The king's first guard bass Gregory Reinhart
The king's second guard bass-baritone Nicolas Courjal
The minister bass Jaco Huijpen
The chamberlain bass Jaco Huijpen
A parrot countertenor Daniel Gundlach


The enigmatic protagonist, Perelà, is literally a man made of smoke, formed over thirty-three years in the chimney of a fireplace tended by three old women, Pena, Rete, and Lama.[2] One day he finds the fireplace abandoned. He gives himself a name made up of the first syllable of the names of his "mothers" (Pe-Re-La), puts on a pair of boots that will anchor him to the ground, and sets off for a city that he sees on the horizon. On the way, he is met by an old woman and then by one of King Torlindao's guards who brings him to the royal court. Once there, everyone is fascinated by the strange story of his origin and by his "lightness", which they consider a unique gift. He is admired and feted by all. So much so, that the Queen and the king's minister ask him to devise a new legal code for their society, and a noblewoman who had previously sworn off men, Marchesa Oliva di Bellonda, falls in love with him. But one day, his fortunes change. The old valet, Alloro, sets himself on fire hoping to emulate the lightness of Perelà. The accusations by Alloro's daughter turn the people against Perelà whom they now revile as a murderer. The Marchesa tries to defend him, but he is condemned to prison. After singing a final oration, Perelà escapes by removing his boots and floating out through the chimney of his cell to become a moving form in the sky.


  1. ^ Premiere cast from Cadenhead (February 2003)
  2. ^ The three women's names are actual words in Italian – "pena" = "sorrow", "rete" = "net" and "lama" = "blade"


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