It was when he was in his early 20s that the Florentine music student Luigi Dallapiccola ventured to Milan to conduct a presentation of  Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire . From that moment, he knew where his future would lie. Dallapiccola would go on to be perhaps the most lyrical of 12-tone composers, writing four stage works, of which Il Prigioniero (The Prisoner) is widely considered to be his masterpiece.

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In fact, from its first presentation in 1950 as a radio opera, the work has long been distinguished as one of the finest of the 20th century’s short operas, running for approximately 45 minutes. Based on a short story by Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, it has a horrific plot – concerning a prisoner of the notorious...

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