La Rosa Musical Opereta


Project by Emil Malak
Libretto by Emil Malak
Music by Linda Nessel
Produced by Rick Kilburn
Co-produced by Emil Malak

La Rosa


La Rosa is a romantic musical set against the world of 19th century Italian opera.
Raised by her over-protective father in 1870s Charleston, Rosa has sacrificed everything to pursue her dream of following in the footsteps of her aunt Viola and becoming an opera singer.
Favoring voice teachers over suitors, Rosa's father Antonio has kept Rosa from everything but music, but just when Rosa is hopeful she can at last move beyond the drawing rooms of the Charleston Opera Society, Antonio arranges a marriage between her and a rich plantation owner of Antonio's age, who insists Rosa stop singing.
Betrayed by the father she adores, Rosa flees to Milan with her aunt, desperate for one final chance at pursuing her dream. For Viola, Milan offers a final chance of landing singing engagements and finding a wealthy husband who doesn't know of her scandalous past. With her voice fading as fast as her looks, she hasn't many options left.
Antonio fled from Milan as a young man, pursued by demons which have made him vow never to return. However, Antonio's oldest friend Lavigne still runs a small opera house in the city, and though he won't hire Viola, he finds Rosa a suitable voice teacher - the esteemed Signora Calabria..
In Calabria's class Rosa finds herself mocked for her delicate voice. After a disastrous first day she encounters a blind man dressed as a peasant who dismisses her as one of Calabria's "caged birds." Stung, Rosa orders him from Lavigne's opera house, and is horrified when she encounters him later that evening, looking quite different but with the same arrogant attitude. He is the renowned tenor Giovanni San Pietro, a man nearly as famous in Milan for his dissolute lifestyle and legion of female admirers as he is for his music. He is also the man Viola is relentlessly pursuing. Viola insists Rosa help her in the seduction by deflecting the lecherous attentions of Giovanni's mentor Francesco.
As Viola pursues Giovanni, Rosa finds her initial antagonism towards Giovanni changing to attraction, despite a number of conflicts. Giovanni declares himself drawn to Rosa's unique voice, asking her to duet with him at an upcoming concert at La Scala. Knowing this would be a blow to Viola, Rosa agrees only if Viola also gets her coveted place at La Scala. Irritated, Giovanni agrees.
As the couple rehearse chaperoned by Natalia, the daughter of Giovanni's gypsy friend, the attraction grows, and when Giovanni takes Rosa to visit the gypsy encampment, she is seduced by the haunting joy and tragedy of the gypsy song. Seeing Giovanni's reaction to the music she begins to believe the rumors of gypsy blood in the orphaned Giovanni, sensing that his rootlessness defines him as much as it does the nomadic tribe of Romas.
Viola is furious when she discovers Rosa is also singing at La Scala, but nothing can ruin the night once Rosa steps on stage with Giovanni.
After the concert Rosa is offered a contract to sing in Paris. Loathe to leave Giovanni, Rosa promises only to think about it. Before the couple can speak privately Padre Matteo comes backstage. The priest who raised the young Giovanni in his orphanage but whom Giovanni fell out with, has come to make amends, and as the two men talk, Rosa awaits Giovanni at the stage door.
It is not Giovanni who comes eventually, however, but Viola. She has heard Padre Matteo's conversation and is eager to relate it to Rosa. Padre Matteo and Giovanni fell out when Giovanni discovered that most of the money coming from the orphanage's mysterious but wealthy patron was being spent on Giovanni's musical education. Unable to bear being so favored, Giovanni ran away. On this night however, Padre Matteo has come to tell him the patron was Antonio Montessi - Rosa's father - and he supported the orphanage because Giovanni was his son.
Unable to believe this Rosa rushes to Lavigne, the one man who will know the truth, and Lavigne confirms everything. Antonio loved a young singer named Giovannina in Milan. The couple had a child, but Giovannina died in childbirth. Wild with grief Antonio gave the child to an orphanage and sailed to America, never to return. He sent money for the child and Lavigne helped the young Giovanni at the request of his old friend.
Sick with despair, Rosa enlists the help of a sympathetic Natalia to flee Milan for a place no one will ever find her. From the shabby hotel in the tiny seaside town she telegraphs Antonio to come to Milan and at last meet the son he gave up. She does not say she in the telegram that she has no intention of seeing either her father or the man she loves ever again.
Despairing of a reason to continue in a life devoid of love, Rosa goes out to the evening ocean and sings a song of loss to Giovanni as the sun sets. The beauty of the evening is unbearable and Rosa splashes acid into her eyes back in her room. If she can never see Giovanni again then what use is her sight? Blindness is the one thing that will make her feel always close to her love.
Natalia arrives too late to save Rosa's sight. But she brings with her a party of others. Antonio rushes to his daughter and by touching his face Rosa can tell he is much changed by illness. He reveals to her he is dying and this was the reason he arranged her marriage. Under Montessi family law all property goes to the nearest living male. If he dies with Rosa unmarried she loses everything.
Rosa's former fiancé has accompanied Antonio on the journey and Antonio insists the marriage must take place immediately as he hasn't much time left. Once James discovers Rosa is blind, he refuses to take part in the "bargain."
Giovanni shows up with an unexpected companion, Padre Matteo. It is Padre Matteo who at last reveals a truth that has been hidden for a lifetime. Padre Matteo confesses to loving Giovanni more than his other orphanage children, more than the other Giovanni, Antonio's son, a sickly boy who died of cholera at the age of 10. Realizing Giovanni's talent could never be nurtured without the finances Antonio provided, Matteo didn't tell Antonio of his son's death and instead pretended to him and later to Lavigne, that this Giovanni was Antonio's son. When he discovered the deception in his teens Giovanni ran from the orphanage determined to make his own way in the world.
Rosa realizes Viola's deception in presenting the conversation to her, but she sees that Viola's future is far bleaker than hers. Back in Milan an angry and unrepentant Viola recognizes her sole option now is a future with the lecherous Francisco.
Refusing to mourn the loss of eyesight when she has gained the man she loves, Rosa celebrates the beauty and tragedy of life, and she and Giovanni are married soon after in a spirited music-filled gypsy wedding.

Download the entire playlist (53:03), or play individual files below.

1 I'll only live for love
2 I hardly know you
3 I will be the rose
4 Morning light
5 Strano
6 Destiny
7 El amor es dicha
8 I give you my all
9 Cry for love
10 Time heals all
11 Tomorrow might never come
12 Bitter honey