We will hear Desdemona in Otello with Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes, plus the title role of Aïda co-starring Eva Randová, Michael Sylvester and Siegmund Nimsgern.

Otello was the gala opening of the Los Angeles Opera. The original Desdemona, Rosalind Plowright, bowed out pregnant. The next announced soprano was Daniela Dessì who disappeared mysteriously. Fortuitously, Benacková was in San Francisco performing Jenufa opposite Leonie Rysanek and was called in to rescue the Verdi. Her final Janacek performance was October 5 with Otello opening just two days later.

Beyond those Los Angeles performances, Benacková sang a Verdi opera only twice more in the US: a pair of rather unsuccessful Desdemonas at the Met in 1999. She was supposed to do four but after the second she left, never to return. 

I don’t believe she sang the Egyptian princess very often so it’s amazing that the Stuttgart Aïda broadcast exists. In addition, she also sang Amelia in Un ballo in maschera and Leonora in La forza del destino, the Requiem and perhaps other roles. I was lucky to hear her perform the omnibus Messa per Rossini, the work that introduced Verdi’s “Libera me” movement, at Avery Fisher Hall in the fall of 1989.

Hers may not be a conventional Verdi voice (if there is such a thing) but I find these performances which pre-date her Met debut by more than four years very appealing.

Other Benacková performances on Trove Thursday include Smetana’s Libuse; Dvorak’s The Spectre’s Bride with Peter Dvorsky; Schumann’s Genoveva with Marjana Lipovsek, Peter Schreier, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Wolfgang Brendel and Kurt Moll; Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Florence Quivar, Francisco Araiza and José van Dam;  Janacek’s Kat’á Kabanová with Nadjezhda Kniplová; Strauss’s Ariadne auf Noxos opposite Natalie Dessay;  and excerpts from Janufa,  and Eugene Onegin.

Verdi: Otello

Los Angeles Music Center
7 October 1986

Desdemona: Gabriela Benacková
Emilia: Alice Baker
Otello: Plácido Domingo
Iago: Sherrill Milnes
Cassio: Jonathan Mack
Roderigo: Stephen Plummer
Lodovico: Julien Robbins
Montano: Michael Gallop
Un araldo: Rodney Gilfry

Conductor: Lawrence Foster

Verdi: Aïda

Stuttgart Oper
29 September 1987

Aida: Gabriela Benacková
Amneris: Eva Randová
Sacerdotessa: Helene Schneiderman
Radamés: Michael Sylvester
Amonasro: Siegmund Nimsgern
Ramfis: Matthias Hölle
Il re: Roland Bracht
Un messaggero: Alexander Stachowiak

Conductor: Garcia Navarro

Otello and Aïda can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.

In addition, well over 500 other podcast tracks are always available from Apple Podcasts for free, or via any RSS reader.

The archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer will soon be updated.