Three decades before Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez dazzled the world with their La donna del lago roadshow, another deluxe team headed by Frederica von Stade and Marilyn Horne shone in Rossini’s neglected masterpiece. This exciting in-house recording documents their sole New York City appearance in 1982. 

For four seasons in the mid-1980s, Carnegie Hall hosted a stellar series of concert performances which showcased operas by Richard Strauss (I was lucky enough to attend the smashing Intermezzo with an unforgettable Elisabeth Söderström and Alan Titus), French operas starring von Stade, and a spectacular Handel quartet for the composer’s tricentenary including the legendary Semele with Kathleen Battle as the eponymous heroine. Its first season ’82-’83, however, was a trio of Rossini operas starring Horne during and this Donna (minus Agnes Baltsa’s Elena—all three of Horne’s originally announced leading ladies bailed on her) was the opener.

A year earlier, von Stade and Horne with Rockwell Blake and Dano Raffanti had also performed this opera with a less-than-ideal conductor in Houston, a recording of which was issued years ago on CD. However, I have always preferred this live performance under Donato Renzetti despite its uneven sound quality which nevertheless makes you feel like you were there.

Rossini: La donna del lago

Carnegie Hall
4 November 1982
In-house recording

Elena: Frederica von Stade
Malcom: Marilyn Horne
Albina: Emily Golden
Uberto: Rockwell Blake
Rodrigo: Dano Raffanti
Douglas: Dmitri Kavrakos
Bertram/Serano : James Atherton

Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Conductor: Donato Renzetti

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