I missed my weekly update last week because I was out of the country, but I did have two normally scheduled SebaSM Comics during my trip, and two more new comics this week too!
Today’s update is Bizarro Twins appropriate, since it’s vaguely inspired by Donizetti‘s Lucia di Lammermoor, which I saw this week at the Metropolitan Opera. Not based on any of the big iconic moments really, just some old school relationship stuff as seen through a 21st century lens, of course… Here’s a clip from the Met’s production in a previous season with Natalie Dessay:
So I’m in Vancouver, Canada for a week, and considering the last opera I saw was the Canadian Opera Company‘s performance of Semele at BAMlast week it seems fitting to discuss their forthcoming season, which, fittingly, features the world premiere of a Canadian Opera!
In honor of Juilliard‘s performances of Rossini‘s 1814 comic opera Il Turco in Italia this week (glowingly reviewed at Parterre), here are some famous depictions of Turkey in opera. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of them wound up revolving around harems, ha ha…
Maybe the most famous opera set in Turkey, Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail follows the European hero as he tries to rescue his girlfriend from the Turkish Pasha’s harem. I don’t know how she wound up there either…
Yet another opera partly set in a Turkish Pasha’s harem is Verdi’s 1848 Il Corsaro, depicting a war between the Pasha and some Pirates, with the Pasha’s favorite Gulnara, below, stuck in the middle…
And in a variation of the first story, here’s another opera about a Turk holding a Western woman captive (Oh, those dastardly Turks!), the first act of Rameau’s globe-trotting anthology opera Les Indes Galantes, aka Le Turc Généreux! You can see the whole opera below, or click on the upper left hand corner to get to the fourth video, where the Turkish segment begins.
Named for the famous American tenor, the Foundation awards a rising American opera singer each year, and the accompanying concert features them and a host of famous singers too, guaranteed to be an especially luminous bunch for Tucker’s 100th birthyear… This year’s awardee is the mezzo soprano Isabel Leonard.
Richard Tucker in La Gioconda at the Met, 1945
Tucker made his Met debut in La Gioconda in 1945, where this excerpt was apparently recorded:
The initial impression, based on this New York Times review, was apparently somewhat mixed:
Special interest naturally centered in the company’s new tenor, Mr. Tucker, who had the misfortune to make his initial appearance in a formidable role too heavy for his essentially lyric type of voice. Nevertheless, he made a definitely favorable impression and was enthusiastically received by the large audience.
Some refer to Spontini as the missing link to French Grand Opera, but some say he’s just really boring… But still, an interesting novelty… Here’s a famous aria, “Toi que j’implore” performed by Barbara Dobrzanska:
The libretto at top is from the collection of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, and it was used at the opera’s premiere performance, making it one of the earliest preserved prompt scripts. They have a nice page on 18th century opera with more primary sources from their collections.
The other operas to be performed at Juilliard are Tchaikhovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Massenet’s Cendrillon (ie, Cinderella). Here’s their full listing of operatic and vocal offerings this year, and as long as we’re talking about New York schools, here’s the opera schedule for the Manhattan School of Music too, an intriguing combination of Haydn, Cavalli, and Virgil Thomson…
That’s one of Cleopatra’s act one arias in Händel‘s most enduring opera, Giulio Cesare in Egitto. While I’m not usually a fan of opera in translation, I liked the vintage of this clip, and thought English soprano Valerie Masterson‘s performance (and diction!) was worth sharing. Enjoy!
This new, Las Vegas-set Met Opera production of Verdi‘s 1851 opera Rigoletto is a far cry from earlier Met productions, including the 1903 season-opener where celebrated Italian tenor Enrico Caruso made his house debut as the Duke of Mantua. It was an important debut, so the Met archives have a whole article devoted to it, with lots of fun anecdotes and primary documents.
Did you know there have been 9 different productions of Rigoletto at the Met? Just one of the fun (if you’re me, at least) things you can learn on The Met’s online archives, which I am learning to love. New productions are very well-documented, with plenty of production and rehearsal photos.