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Bootlegger's Tarantella

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John Estacio

John Estacio (trans. Jay Michalak)

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General Info

Year: 2001 /
Duration: c. 7:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Unknown
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This piece is based on the scenario for an opera titled Filumena which I wrote with playwright John Murrell. The opera is based on the tru- life story of Filumena Lassandro, a young Italian woman who immigrated to Canada in the early 1900s and settled in the Crowsnest Pass.

Filumena was married off at a young age and through this marriage she became involved with an Italian bootlegging ring, hence the title. She was encouraged by the head bootlegger, Emilio Picariello, to serve as a decoy on bootlegging runs; if there was a woman in the car, the police would be less suspicious of the vehicle’s contents, and they most certainly would not shoot at the car. During several of these runs across the Alberta, B.C. and Montana borders, Filumena was often paired up with the bootlegger’s son, Stefano. Despite being married to Charlie, the Picariello’s main henchman, Filumena had a brief fling with Stefano.

One fateful night, Stefano went out alone on a bootleg run and was shot by the Constable Stephen Lawson. Word quickly returned to the town that Stefano had most likely been killed. In a fit of rage, Emilio Picariello decided to visit the constable who allegedly shot his son. With him he took Filumena as a decoy. A struggle ensued between Picariello, Filumena and the constable. Shots were fired and Constable Lawson was struck and killed. Picariello and Filumena were both captured. Stefano, who as it turns out was only wounded and not killed, pleaded with Filumena to take the blame for the crime. He explained to her that the jury, made up of Anglo-Saxons, would love to have his father executed; however, a woman is rarely found guilty of murder, and if she is, she most certainly will not be executed. Filumena refused to take the blame, and consequently both Filumena and Picariello were found guilty of the crime and executed. In fact, Filumena Lassandro was the last woman to be executed in Alberta. To this day, no one knows exactly what happened the night of the murder and who exactly fired the fateful shot.

I wrote this short overture before I started writing the opera. A few of the themes from this overture have ended up in the opera, but not all of them. The first of three themes in this piece is a folk-like melody, which eventually segues into a dance tune that one might hear at a traditional Italian wedding party; and perhaps the wedding band has had one too many of the bootlegger’s brew, especially the lower brass section… The third theme suggests the passionate elements of the story; betrayal, unrequited love, and the despair at the tragic turn of events. Gradually, the music returns to the theme that started off the piece.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer