Operas Sneak Preview: Live from the MET in New York

By Carole Reedy

Operas by two of the most popular Italian 19 century composers, Gaetano Donizetti and Giuseppe Verdi, open this seventh Metropolitan Opera HDtransmission season. Don’t forget to see if your location broadcasts Sergio Vela’s informative charla, transmitted live from the Lunario in Mexico City at 10:30 am. This talk offers many tools to understand and enjoy the history of the opera, its characters, and composer, besides being great fun. Vela’s knowledge of opera is beyond “we mortals”!

All operas are scheduled to be shown in Oaxaca City at the Teatro Macedonia Alcala, in Mexico City at the Auditorio Nacional, as well as other locations throughout the country. See ‘The Eye’s September 2012 issue for a complete listing of the locations in Mexico as well as for the complete opera season.

The Elixir of Love, Gaetano Donizetti, written in 1832 Live Transmission Date: October 13, 2012 Noon-3 pm Unrequited love and magic potions are two of the charming th themes in this 12 -most-performed opera in the world. The main roles have been sung by the greatest sopranos and tenors, including Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Rolando Villazón, Guiseppe de Stefano, and Nicolai Gedda in the role of the poor peasant Nemorino, and Joan Sutherland, Roberta Peters, Mirella Freni, and Angela Gheorghiu as Adina, a beautiful landowner.

This bel canto (literally “beautiful music”) comedy boasts one of the greatest and most performed tenor arias in the history of the opera–Una furtiva lagrima. In the bel canto musical style the listener discovers the drama in the music rather than the words. Today’s top soprano, Ana Netrebko, opens this HD season, accompanied by Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien.

Othello, Giuseppe Verdi, written in 1887 Live Transmission Date: October 27 Noon-3:30 pm Although Verdi read, several times, each of Shakespeare’s 37 plays and wrote three magnificent operas based on the characters Macbeth, Falstaff, and Othello, he never achieved his dream of composing an opera about King Lear. His three operas through their music do, however, capture the most poignant moments of each play. In Othello, Verdi uses the Wagnerian technique of sustained drama through an entire act, without the interruption of scene changes prominent in his other operas.

The three main roles (Desdemona, Othello, and Iago) are among the most demanding, both vocally and dramatically. Enrique Caruso was studying the title role when he died suddenly in 1921. South African Tenor Johan Botha (not the long-distance runner) takes the stage as Othello in this Met production, while American Renee Fleming plays Desdemona. Fleming often serves as host during the HD transmissions and has sung the beautifully melodic Strauss roles in past transmissions. On June 4, 2012, she sang for the Queen at her Diamond Jubilee. Conductor Sir Georg Solti said of Fleming, “I have met maybe two sopranos with this quality of singing, the other was Renata Tebaldi.”

Although both Donizetti and Verdi enjoyed fame in their time, they also shared tragedies. Both lost their children and wives at early ages, leaving the composers devastated. Donizetti died at home at age 50, tragically in the grip of insanity after having been institutionalized for three years in Paris (where he was visited by Verdi). Verdi, whose music was influenced by Donizetti, lived to a ripe old age, experiencing fame and adoration for most of it.

Carole Reedy attends all HD transmissions and other opera events in Mexico City. Contact her at carolina_reedy@yahoo.com with any questions or comments you may have

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