“It was the chilliest opening night at the Met in years on Monday—barely 15 degrees when the curtain went up on the company premiere of La Donna del Lago. But you can’t blame the polar vortex for the audience’s cool reception of this tuneful but dramatically inert Rossini melodrama.” [New York Observer] (Photo: Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera)
Ellen Douglas—Elena, if you will; the Lady of the Lake—finds herself in Act II of Rossini’s La Donna del Lago in the far from unusual operatic position of having her love claimed by two impassioned tenors in the bel canto version of a macho drag race. What is curious about this is her solution: She runs off with the mezzo-soprano. Well, wouldn’t you? The story of the opera’s a bit like Ernani (one of the suitors is a lecherous king in disguise, just as you’d expect), but only if Ernani ended happily, at the end of Act III, say. Read more »
The key to enjoying Bellini’s I Capuleti e Montechi is to do a hard factory reset and reformat your brain to forget all other works based on Romeo and Juliet. Forget Tchaikovsky’s fantasy overture. Forget Prokofiev’s ballet score. Most importantly, forget Shakespeare’s play. If you can do all those things, you can enjoy Bellini’s opera for what it is—a primo ottocento relic with some very beautiful music.
Romani’s libretto makes the “star-crossed” lovers story less a tale of missed chances and senseless violence than a very conventional love triangle. There’s Romeo who is in love with Giulietta, daughter of Capellio. Giulietta is of course bethrothed to another (Tebaldo). And Romeo and his Montechi family are responsible for killing Capellio’s son. Much singing and sadness results. Romeo does indeed die of poison in the tomb but Giulietta expires from the same Unexplained Operatic Death that afflicts her Wagnerian sisters Elisabeth, Elsa, and Isolde. As I said, forget the Bard and it will all make sense. Read more »
A young friend messaged me to ask if I knew Rossini’s Macbeth.
Finally the mystery has been solved: glamorous Joyce DiDonato and mousy Rachel DiDonato (pictured, left to right) are really the same person!
Sunday afternoon’s intermittently involving concert performance of Handel’s Alcina at Carnegie Hall starred an unusually intense Joyce DiDonato as a powerful sorceress blinded by her romantic delusions.
Tonight, Joyce DiDonato will perform the music from her new album Stella di Napoli at the Gowanus Ballroom.