WWFM Sunday Opera with Michael Kownacky

Sundays at 3 pm

Enjoy world-class productions from the world of opera featuring the great singers past and present performing in the world's great opera houses.

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Two works by Sir Michael Tippett are on offer for this week’s Sunday Opera (3/25  3:00 p.m.)  His groundbreaking opera “A Midsummer Marriage” which deals with a symbolic pathway to marriage and life in the face of change will open the program.  The recording is the world premiere production from 1955 featuring Joan Sutherland, Richard Lewis, Edith Coates, and Adele Leigh and the Covent Garden Chorus and Orchestra under the direction of John Pritchard.

Familiar voices, many from the past, will be showcased on this week’s Sunday Opera (3/18  3:00 p.m.) in an all-star presentation of Giacomo Puccini’s “Il Trittico.”  We’ll sample three recordings.  The first, “Il Tabarro” stars Leontyne Price, Sherrill Milnes, and Placido Domingo.  “Suor Angelica” stars Renata Tebaldi in the title role and Giuletta Simionato as the callous Principessa.  Leo Nucci is the cantankerous “Gianni Schicchi” with Mirella Freni as his daughter Lauretta, and Roberto Alagna as her love, Rinuccio.  Also featured in this cast are Eva Podles, Barbara Frittoli, and Dalibo

The Sunday Opera: Ambroise Thomas' "Mignon"

Mar 8, 2018

We’re heading back to France for this week’s Sunday Opera (3/11 3:00 p.m.) for one of the better known works of Charles Louis Ambroise Thomas, “Mignon.”  As a special feature, both the happy and tragic endings written for this opera about the trials of a young girl who was abducted by gypsies will be presented.  Marilyn Horne is Mignon, and joining her are Alain Vanzo, Frederica Von Stade, Ruth Welting, and Andre Battedou.  Antonio De Almeda conducts the Ambrosian Opera Chorus and The Philharmonia Orchestra.  

Music by the rival of Weber and friend to Beethoven and Mendelssohn is being featured on this week’s Sunday opera (2/4  3:00 p.m.) when we’ll look at two supernatural works from the pen of Heinrich August Marschner.  The first is the opera that cemented his place as one of the important composers of German opera, “Hans Heiling” in which the prince of the gnomes searches the mortal world to find a wife but learns just how difficult finding true love can be.  

Vincenzo Bellini’s last opera, “I Puritani,” is on offer as this week’s Sunday Opera (2/25  3:00 p.m.).  It proved to be one of Bellini’s best received operas, and it was revived frequently after its premier at the Theatre-Italien on 24 January 1835.  With a libretto by Count Carlo Pepoli, it’s a story of love, mistaken infidelity, madness, opportunistic sanity, and finally, a happy ending.  

The music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is being featured on this week’s Sunday Opera (2/18  3:00 p.m.) through two of his well-known and much loved pieces.  The program begins with the psychological drama “Pique Dame” (“The Queen of Spades”) and a recording from 1991.  Herman has two problems: he’s in love with Liza who is far above his station in life, and he is obsessed with gambling.  He learns that Liza’s grandmother is a countess who is known as The Queen of Spades because she knows a formula that always allows her to win.  

Two works by Umberto Giordano will be featured on this week’s Sunday Opera (2/11  3:00 p.m.).  Giordano was on the forefront of the verismo (realism) movement in the world of opera, and we’ll be sampling two of those on this program.  The first is one of his best-known works, “Fedora,” a tragic story of doomed love due to actions taken too quickly and without thought.   Our recording from 1986 features as Eva Marton as Fedora, and her Loris is Jose Carreras.

Richard Wagner’s second opera, “Das Liebesverbot,” is the centerpiece of this week’s Sunday Opera (2/4  3:00 p.m.).   Premiering in 1836, “Das Liebesverbot” or “The Ban on Love,” is based on Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” with a libretto by Wagner and has been called “Wagner’s lost comedy” since its premier was a disaster with the leading man forgetting his part and improvising through the performance.  This performance, recorded in 1983, features Hermann Prey, Wolfgang Fassler, and Sabine Haas.  

An American opera based on an American original is this week’s Sunday Opera (1/28  3:00 p.m.) as we take a look at Lori Laitman’s 2016 treatment of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.”  Hawthorne’s 1850 novel is a moral allegory centering on Hester Prynne’s affair with the Reverend Dimmesdale, the birth of her illegitimate daughter, Pearl, and her strength and determination to make a life for them in the face of hatred and prejudice.  Laura Claycomb is Hester and Dominic Armstrong is Dimmesdale in this recording featuring the Opera Colorado Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Ari Pelto

Gordon Getty is the featured composer on this week’s Sunday Opera (1/21  3:00 p.m.) in two of his works.  We’ll begin with “Plump Jack,” an adaptation by the composer of “Henry IV” Parts 1 & 2 and “Henry V” of Shakespeare featuring Lester Lynch as Falstaff as he falls from favor with Prince Hal on the death of the prince’s father.  The second opera is based on Oscar Wilde’s first published story, “The Canterville Ghost” about an American family who move into a haunted castle only to drive the poor ghost to despair.