Il viaggio a Reims is a pièce de circonstance created for the coronation of King Charles X of France, who succeeded his brother Louis XIII, at the Reims Cathedral in 1824. The worldwide import of this grand event explains the wide range of cosmopolitan characters, traveling far and wide to watch the new king take his crown; the mishaps and squabbles of a colorful cast of characters form the episodic action of the work, which was only performed four times in 1825 and not heard again in its entirety until a careful reconstruction allowed a 1984 revival in Pesaro, conducted by Claudio Abbado. In the years since, it has been performed in the world's premier venues, calling for a cast of considerable depth with 14 soloists!
In this benchmark production by Luca Ronconi, the staging gives every character their moment to shine: the sweet and idealistic poet Corinne, the equally wise and ridiculous doctor Don Prudenzio, Madama Cortese and her glittering bouquets of high notes, the stereotypical French séducteur Belfiore, the flighty Countess of Folleville, the Germanically serious Baron of Trombonok, the dashing Count Libenskof and his haughty rival Don Alvaro... With the talent of the singers, plus the storied Carlo Colla and Sons Marionette Company (in business since 1835!), this timeless classic works its magic from start to finish.