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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The Sunday Opera travels to Albuquerque’s Opera Southwest this week (11/19  3:00 p.m.) for Giocchino Rossini’s “Tancredi.”  The libretto by Gaetano Rossi (who would write the libretto for Rossini’s “Semiramide” ten years later) features both a happy and tragic ending for this story that includes a love story that is affected by false assumptions and disguise.  Heather Johnson stars in the title role, and the rest of the cast includes Lindsay Ohse, Heath Huberg, Matthew Curran, Madelyn Wanner, and Chelsea Duval-Major in a production conducted by Anthony Barrese.

Felice Romani is once again the librettist for our final opera from the Caramoor Music Festival on this week’s Sunday opera (11/12  3:00 p.m.).  The opera is Vincenzo Bellini’s “Il Pirata,” a tragic story of lost love, treachery, death, and madness.  Angela Meade leads the cast once more as Imogene.  Her true love, Gualtiero, is sung by Santigo Ballerini, and Harold Wilson sings the role of the evil that comes between them, Ernesto.  Will Crutchfield conducts.  As a bit of a departure from our usual Sunday Operas, host Michael Kownacky will be celebrating a birthday with the time left.   A

We’ll be hearing from New York’s Caramoor Festival again for this week’s Sunday Opera (11/5  3:00 p.m.).  This week, it’s Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia,” a tale of treachery and murder with one of the largest body counts in Grand Opera!  The libretto by Felice Romani is based on the play by Victor Hugo and looks at a segment of the life of this woman, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI, who is rumored to have poisoned ad murdered hundreds of people.  The 2016 Caramoor cast features rising star Angela Meade as Lucrezia, Christophoros Stamboglis as her husband Alfonso D’Este.  Also feat

Giuseppe Verdi’s last opera, “Falstaff,” in a concert performance from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will air on this week’s Sunday Opera (10/29  3:00 p.m.).  The lustful Sir John will be performed by Falstaff specialist, Ambrogio Maestri.  Joining him are Eleanora Buratto and Laura Polverelli as the objects of his attention, Alice and Meg, Luca Salsi as Alice’s husband, Rosa Feola as their daughter Nanetta, and Saimir Pirgu as her love, Fenton.  Rounding out the cast are Daniela Barcellona as the cunning Mistress Quickly, Saveria Fiore as Dr.

We’re nearing the end of the season of operas from San Francisco this Sunday (10/22  3:00 p.m.) with another archival production.  This time, it’s Richard Strauss’ 1933 lyric comedy “Arabella” in a recording made in 1980 and starring Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role as the daughter of a penniless nobleman who wants to marry for love, not the fortune her father needs.  The cast also includes Barbara Daniels as her sister Zdenka, Sona Cervena and Alexander Malta as Arabella’s parents, Ingvar Wixell as a not-so-mysterious stranger Mandryka, and William Lewis as Matteo, a penniless soldier who’

Maurizio Muraro stars in the title role of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” from San Francisco on this week’s Sunday Opera (10/15   3:00 p.m.).  “Pasquale,” the 73rd of Donizetti’s 75 operas, deals with a foolish, old man who is tricked into allowing his nephew Ernesto to marry the girl he loves, Norina, with the help of the wily Dr. Malatesta.  Joining Muraro, in this September 2016 performnance , you’ll hear Heidi Stober as the spirited Norina, Lawrence Brownlee as the confused Ernesto, and Lucas Meachem as the happily scheming Dr.

The world premiere production of Chinese American composer Bright Sheng’s “Dream of the Red Chamber” is this week’s Sunday Opera.  (10/8  3:00 p.m.)  The task of adapting this mid-18th century novel which consists of 120 chapters and nearly 600 named characters fell to Tony Award Winning playwright David Henry Hwang who focused on the tale of one of the “twelve beauties” of the story Dai-yu and her tragic love for Bao Yu.  It’s a story of love, treachery, and loss.  The primarily Asian cast features Pureum Jo as the doomed Dai-yu and Yijie Shi as Bao Yu.

Umberto Giordano is our composer for two tales of doomed love on this week’s Sunday Opera (10/1   3:00 p.m.).  We continue with our season from the San Francisco Opera and their recent production of “Andrea Chenier.”  The poet Chenier (Yonghoon Lee) is falsely accused by the servant Gerard (George Gagnidze) and sentenced to death during the French Revolution.

Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” with Lianna Haroutounian in the title role is this week’s Sunday Opera (9/24 3:00 p.m.) from the San Francisco Opera.  The libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa was based on a play by David Bilasco which in turn was based on a short story by John Luther Long.  That short story’s basis was in stories told to Long by his sister along with the French novel “Madame Chrysantheme” by Pierre Loti.  The two-act version that premiered at La Scala on February 17, 1904 was poorly received, but Puccini re-wrote it into a three-act opera and included the now-famous h

Performances from the San Francisco Opera continue on this weeks’ Sunday Opera (9/17 3 p.m.) with another tale of doomed love in Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida.”   Leah Crocetto sings the title role, Brian Jagde is her Radames, and Ekaterina Semenchuk is the spurned Amneris.  They’re joined by George Gagnidze as Amonasro, Raymond Aceto as Ramfis, and Anthony Reed as the King of Egypt.  Nicola Luisotti conducts.  Stay tuned after the opera for some interesting Verdi including the sinfonia for “Aida” that was written, but never used, for the opera’s European premier in 1887 as well as another rarity,

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