opera

We’ll travel to Sri Lanka for this week’s Sunday Opera (6/17 3:00 p.m.) and a production of Georges Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers” from the Chicago Lyric Opera.  This story of desire, friendship, and sacrifice which includes one of the most famous and beloved tenor/baritone duets, “Au fond du temple saint,” stars Mariusz Kwiecien, Matthew Polenzani, and Andrea Silvestrelli with Sir Andrew Davis conducting.  

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In an effort to expand its reach to new, particularly younger audiences, The Princeton Festival has announced a new "Young Friends of the Princeton Festival" program. This week on A Tempo (6/9 at 7 pm), host Rachel Katz will speak with CJ Ru, the Princeton Festival's director of operations, about this program, which includes discounted tickets on select performances  of the Festival's opera production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, and a drink at intermission to those between the ages of 21 and 40.

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The Princeton Festival returns to The Classical Network Sunday at 3 pm with a complete performance of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio. Glenn Smith hosts this broadcast of the Festival's 2017 opera, featuring tenor Noah Baetge in the role of Florestan and soprano Marcy Stonikas as the heroine Leonore.

The jailer Rocco will be performed by bass Gustav Andreassen, his daughter Marzelline is soprano Danielle Talamantes, the villainous Don Pizarro is bass-baritone Joseph Barron, Jacquino is tenor Michael Kuh and Don Fernando is bass-baritone Cameron Jackson.

This Sunday night, May 13, we have highlights from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. Simon Boccanegra is produced frequently enough, but considering its music, why isn't it more popular? The answer is the libretto, a gloomy convoluted story with various political revenge and love elements that are hard to follow even in live performance.

We’ll be transported to the Yorkshire Moors for this week’s Sunday Opera (5/13  3:00 p.m.) through Bernard Hermann’s 1951 treatment of Emily Bronte’s brooding novel “Wuthering Heights.”  The opera was begun in 1943 while Hermann was writing the film score for the adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” but it would never be produced during his life time.  Focusing on the first half of Bronte’s novel, “Wuthering Heights” looks at the tragic love of the headstrong Cathy and the tormented Heathcliff played out against the beautifully bleak moorland.  

The 2018 New York Opera Fest gets underway May 1, and this Saturday (4/28) A Tempo offers a preview of its diverse productions and offerings - ranging from fully staged productions to immersive events in smaller venues to a downloadable podcast. Host Rachel Katz will speak with Peter Szep, co-founder and chair of the festival, about highlights and how the New York opera scene is expanding and evolving. Tune in Saturday at 7 pm. 

Two sides of Sergei Prokofiev will be featured on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/29 3:00 p.m.) in the form of his dramatic tragedy “The Fiery Angel” and his much loved comedy “The Love for Three Oranges.”  In a dramatic score that is said to be a perfect embodiment of Prokofiev’s brooding and dark sarcasm, “The Fiery Angel” follows Renata, a devout woman, as she searches for her missing love, an angel with whom she has been in love since she was a child. 

Ricky Ian Gordon’s treatment of John Steinbeck’s heartbreaking 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath” is this week’s Sunday Opera (4/22  3:00 p.m.).  This world premier recording features Brian Leerhuber as the desperate Tom Joad leading his extended family away from the horrors of the dustbowl only to find that California holds no promise for them at the end of their journey.  The cast also includes Roger Honeywell as Jim Casey, Kella Kaduce as Rosasharn, Andrew Wilkowske as Tom’s hapless brother Noah, Robert Orth as Uncle John, and Deanne Meek and Peter Halverson as Ma and Pa Joad.

The Sunday Opera (4/8 3:00 p.m.) will, in its small way, be celebrating the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth with an afternoon of his two major operas: “Trouble in Tahiti,” and its sequel “A Quiet Place.”  “Trouble in Tahiti” had its world premiere at Brandeis University as part of their Festival of Creative Arts.  The barely finished opera which had a problematic physical production, was not particularly well received, but it was reworked and performed at Tanglewood before appearing on television, all in 1952.  

  This Sunday Night at eight o'clock (04-01-18), three singers from the early and middle parts of the twentieth century take center stage. Gino Bechi (1913-1993) was not well known outside of Italy, but his interpretation of Verdi was on a par with Robert Merrill, Leonard Warren and Ettore Bastianini. Claudia Muzio (1889-1936) easily was one of the finest sopranos of the first half century, and Richard Tauber (1891-1948) is still the touchstone for how to sing operetta, although he had an extensive career in opera as well.

It’s a perfect April Fool’s on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/1 3:00 p.m.) when we turn to Franz Josef Haydn and his farce “Il Mondo Della Luna.”  Based on a play by Carlo Goldoni, the clever Ecclitico wins both money and a bride from the foolish Buonafede with a tale that he will take him to the moon and introduce him to the society there.  We’ll turn to a 1993 recording featuring Luigi Alva, Domenico Trimarchi, Edith Mathis, Arlene Auger, Frederica von Stade, and Anthony Rolfe Johnson for this charming bit of tomfoolery.   

Opera Philadelphia

With the successful launch of its new Fall festival format under with its belt, Opera Philadelphia this week announced its plans for its O18 Festival. The festival will run September 20-30, 2018, bringing two world premieres, two new productions and some other treats to opera audiences at a variety of venues.

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.

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.  

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