By the time Roberto Devereux saw its premiere at Napoli’s Teatro San Carlo on 29 October, 1837, Gaetano Donizetti had lost, in an 18-month time frame, both his parents, two still-born children, and his beloved wife Virginia. (Ten years later, the unfortunate composer, after a gradual descent into madness, met a grisly end, from complications of syphilis.) The opera was completed a month after his wife’s death. We can scarcely imagine how the composer, in his grief, summoned up the means to create an opera—and one that so often teems with his richest levels of inspiration. Read more »
Oddly enough, Eva Marton‘s interpretation of the Kostelnicka (pictured) goes unmentioned in Issue #38, perhaps because this time around, parterre box the queer opera zine is stuffed to the gills with some of the edgiest content in its history. After leading off with a completely inaccurate gossip item about Sam Ramey, your doyenne discusses Glimmerglass Opera; Gertie Dammerung travels to Munich and Bayreuth; Dr. Repertoire muses on Marta Eggerth, MTV and Carlo Bergonzi; Leila de Lakmé appreciates Leyla Gencer; and, bestest of all, Opera Snooze! [Download Issue #38]
Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea) is opera on the grand scale with mellifluous arias and breathtaking duets that tell a tale of ancient Roman political machinations, adultery, and murder in which there is no true protagonist. This stunningly expressive music is performed by an all-star cast. Soprano Miah Persson, praised by The New York Times for her “sumptuous sound and elegant lyricism,” is joined by singers who have all won worldwide critical acclaim for their mastery of this beautiful repertoire. The Guardian wrote that “there are few performers better-versed in the music of Claudio Monteverdi than Rinaldo Alessandrini and the ensemble he founded 30 years ago, Concerto Italiano.” Alessandrini and company anchor a performance that promises to be one of the season’s most thrilling nights of opera.
La Cieca is sort of out of words trying to describe what makes a great performance of the role of Norma, as opposed to the conscientious traversal of the notes that, curiously, seems to inspire such absurdly hyperbolic statements as “The role has been a magnet for many great sopranos—Ponselle, Milanov, Callas, Sutherland, to name a few—and after last night Radvanovksy can add her name to the list.”
Thus your doyenne now graciously offers an audio example of “greatness,” including ferocity of attack, nobility of fraseggio, crisp rhythm and expressive use of the text… following the jump. Read more »
On tonight’s episode of Unnatural Acts of Opera, we hear the second act of Donizetti’s Belisario. But we won’t hear Leyla Gencer during this act, as her character remains offstage for the duration. However, La Cieca has added an extra act of Donizetti (with la Gencer onstage the whole time!) as bonus. Hear it after the jump.