Image 0 - Maddalena


Have you ever seen an opera that is about you? About your places? Of the Inquisition's bonfires in Piazza Duomo? 

In November in Lugano you can: on November 3, 4, 5 there will be the premiere performance of a contemporary opera set right between Como and Ticino. 

It is "Maddalena," the composer is Swiss Thomas Trachsel, and the subject draws inspiration from the characters in Carlo Silini's novels "The Girl Thief" and "Milk and Blood" (Capelli editore). The character of the protagonist, Magdalene, recalls other heroines, archetypes of fairy tales and novels in the Western tradition, and the whole narrative evokes great examples from literature and the history of musical theater: from Sebastiano Vassalli's Chimera, to Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose to Notre Dame de Paris (both in Victor Hugo's literary version and in its transposition into a musical by Riccardo Cocciante) for its themes related to the Inquisition trials and witch burnings (which at the time took place in today's Piazza Duomo); to Alessandro Manzoni's Promessi sposi (The Betrothed) for its references to brigands and the abduction of young girls; to Tosca, since as in Puccini's opera, there are portraits of Madonnas with the features of one of the characters in Maddalena; and to Wagner's Parsifal, for its references to religion and ritual and sacred processions.

Set in the mid-seventeenth century between the Duchy of Milan and the Swiss bailiwicks south of the Alps, Maddalena's is a sensual and violent story in which white magic and black magic are intertwined with folk tales and the roots of Ticino, inspired by the ancient legend of a Swiss necromancer and his beautiful young nemesis. The protagonist is certainly the young woman who bears the same name as the title of the opera, but it is to be considered a choral drama: around her move the cruel Mago di Cantone, her parents Antonio and Barbara, the acquired affections of Lena and Tonio, the nobles, and the brigands: each with their own weaknesses and frailties, which are reflected in their respective actions, good or bad. 

Maddalena is the first opera composed for wind orchestra only, and is intended to be a cultural product designed to enhance the area and its contemporary artists, while at the same time creating a bridge to tradition.

Although there are many arrangements for wind-only ensemble of operas (originally for symphony orchestra), never has any opera been composed specifically for this ensemble. 

The timbral distinctiveness of the ensemble is used to exacerbate the dramaturgical impact of the music writing by composer Thomas Trachsel: the result is a sonic result of imposing wonder on the one hand, and subtle intimacy on the other.

The repertoire of such ensembles is made in very large part from the transcriptions for wind-only ensemble of the greatest pages of classical music, and it is for this reason that the wind orchestra prefigures itself as the perfect point of contact between opera understood as the highest expression of "cultured" musical theater and the music enjoyed and listened to on the territory in very many contexts of everyday life (liturgical processions, civic festivities, in many cases even those carnivalesque): it is, therefore, the ensemble of choice for an artistic product that aims to present itself as an invitation to participation by all kinds of audiences.

In Switzerland, there are many wind orchestras of various levels, ranging from amateur ensembles to those of the highest professional profile: and this is precisely the case of the Civica Filarmonica di Mendrisio, among the most important in Switzerland, to which the performance of the work is entrusted. Conducting will be Maestro Carlo Balmelli, one of Switzerland's best-known conductors, also at the head of the Stadtharmonie Zürich Oerlikon- Seebach and the Konkordia of Egerkingen, also musical ensembles of excellence, in 2022 awarded the prestigious Stephan Jaeggi prize, Switzerland's highest award in the band field. It recently received the 2023 Music Prize from the Federal Office of Culture. The performers will be Stephanie Bühlmann, Camilla Antonini, Gianluca Zampieri, Julia Gertseva and Eugene Villanueva, the choral parts to the Lugano Opera Chorus directed by Andrea Cupia, while the direction will  be by Diego Bernasconi and the sets by Tobia Botta.

The realization comes courtesy of the Maddalena Association, whose members, after the 2003 and 2007 stagings of Mantegazzi's Sacra terra del Ticino (evocative of Ticino's roots), and Rossini's Guglielmo Tell (another Swiss story), have kept in the drawer for years the dream of completing a sort of operatic trilogy dedicated to the territory. After the editorial success of Carlo Silini's two novels Il ladro di ragazze (The Girl Thief) and Latte e sangue (Milk and Blood), the vicissitudes of the Mago di Cantone, a sort of founding myth of Mendrisiotto, became the favored subject for a bold new artistic endeavor, which aims to create an opera that represents the historical and cultural roots of Ticino. 

In the composition, Trachsel wanted to emphasize the connection with the territory of Ticino and Comasco by connoting the pieces acoustically as well, and was therefore inspired by various melodies and acoustic signals that dot the soundscape of the local sacred folk tradition, citing, for example, musical moments typical of Mendrisio's Holy Week, whose processions and ritual moments are a Unesco heritage site.


  • Friday, the 3rd of November 2023
  • Saturday, the 4th of November 2023
  • Sunday, the 5th of November 2023


  • Category 1: CHF 90.-
  • Category : CHF 70.- (in Category 2: tickets are available to young people up to 25 years of age for CHF 35.-)
  • Presale


  • OPENING Fri... Sat: 20:00
    Sun: 16:00
  • CATEGORIES Classical music , Get-togethers , Theatre