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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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,

Join us as we’re treated to an archival performance of “La Gioconda” from the San Francisco Opera this Sunday (9/7 – 3:00 p.m.).  This 1979 production of the Amilcare Ponchielli / Arrigo Boito (under the pseudonym/anagram Tobia Gorrio) opera features the debuts of Renata Scotto and Luciano Pavarotti in the roles of La Gioconda and Enzo Grimaldo.  The love story based on the play “Angelo, Tyrant of Padua” by Victor Hugo, follows a famous singer as she gives up her happiness and life for the man she loves because of a kindness shown to her mother by her rival.  This cast also includes Ferruc

The season from the Los Angeles Opera ends this Sunday (9/3 3:00 p.m.) with the final installment of LA Opera’s “Figaro trilogy” with John Corigliano’s brilliant mix of history and art, “Ghosts of Versailles.”  Beaumarchais (Christopher Maltman) uses his beloved characters, Figaro (Luca Meachem), Count Almaviva (Joshua Guerraro), Rosina (Guanqun Yu), and Susanna (Lucy Schafer) to help Marie Antoinette (Patricia Racette) find love and eternal peace and escape the evil Begearss (Robert Brubaker).  This production features a cameo appearance by Patti Lupone as “Samira, the Turkish Entertainer.

LA Opera’s second operatic look at Beaumarchais’ roguish Figaro will be featured on this week’s Sunday Opera (8/27 – 3:00 p.m.) in their production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”  Roberto Tagliavini takes the title role with Pretty Yende his beloved Susanna.  The Count and Countess Almaviva are Ryan McKinny and Guanqun Yu.  Rounding out the cast you’ll hear Renee Rapier as the impish Cherubino, Kristinn Sigmundsson as Dr.

LA Opera on Air begins a three opera series featuring Beaumarchais’ best-known character, Figaro, on this week’s Sunday Opera (8/20 3:00 p.m.) with Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”  Our Figaro in this production is Rodion Pogossov, and the couple he helps to find true love (for now), Count Almaviva and Rosina, are performed by Rene Barbera and Elizabeth DeShong.  Rosina’s peevish and somewhat lascivious guardian, Doctor Bartolo, is sung by LA favorite, Kristinn Sigmundsson.  After the opera, please join host Michael Kownacky for more music by Rossini, his Cantata in Honor of Pop

Jacques Offenbach’s charming setting of stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann will be on air for this week’s Sunday Opera (8/13 – 3:00 p.m.).  This performance from the Los Angeles Opera stars Vittorio Grigolo in as Hoffmann and Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse and The Muse of Poetry.  Nicolas Teste appears as the four foils in Hoffmann’s life, Lindorf, Coppelius,  Dapertutto, and Dr.

Our Sunday Opera continues from LA Opera on Air this week (8/6 – 3:00 p.m.) with Giuseppe Verdi’s tenth opera from 1847 “Macbeth.”  With a libretto based on the Shakespeare original by Francesco Maria Piave and Andrea Maffei, the tale of unbridled ambition features Placido Domingo in the title role.  As his Lady, you’ll hear Ekaterina Semenchuk, and the Banquo, Macduff, and Malcolm are Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, Arturo Chacon-Cruz, and Josh Wheeker.  James Conlon conducts the Los Angeles Opera Chorus and Orchestra.  The afternoon continues with more Macbeths when Michael Kownacky will include

Mozart’s much loved “Don Giovanni” is this week’s Sunday Opera (7/23 - 3:00 pm).  This performance of the story surrounding the nefarious doings and ultimate punishment of the licentious Don Juan comes from the 2015 season of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Mariusz Kwiecien reprises his performance in the title role from the previous season, and he is joined by Kyle Ketelsen as Leoporello, Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ana Maria Martinez as Donna Elvira, and Andrea Churchman as Zerlina with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra.  After the opera, join Michael Kownacky

Performances from The Lyric Opera of Chicago continue this week (7/16 3:00 p.m.) with their production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” featuring Mariusz Kwiecien as Onegin.  Joining him will be Ana Maria Martinez as Tatyana, Charles Castronovo as Lensky, Alisa Kolosova as Olga, and as Prince Gremin, Dmitry Belosselskiy.  Alejo Perez conducts the Lyric Opera Chorus and Orchestra.  Tchaikovsky’s music will also be featured after the opera when Michael Kownacky will conclude the program with the Manfred Symphony, Op. 58 performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Ricardo Chailly.

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