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.
Then on Monday, via the internet, you can see Glyndebourne‘s 2010 production of Benjamin Britten‘s Billy Budd (lots of B–alliteration), fitting for his centennial year. They just say that the webcast will be at “lunchtime”… Greenwich Mean Time, I presume…
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.
Just listening to the opening I could’ve sworn it was some sort of dusk or dawn aria, but I couldn’t find any explicit reference to the time for a long time… But Wikipedia says this first act begins before sunrise though, so guess that settles it.
Also, didn’t know about the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, dedicated to supporting opera singers in her native New Zealand. Cute!
Last chance to hear Verdi‘s Otello from the Met this season with a live web stream tonight at 7:25 pm. I’m more excited for next month’s schedule though: 3 streaming performances of Händel‘s Giulio Cesare, one of my faves! It all kicks off on Thursday, April 4th, at 7:25 pm as well.