The recent Met Norma brouhaha involving Angela Meade’s last-minute substitution for ailing Sonya Yoncheva reminded me of a Meade performance I’d squirreled away, so today Chris’s Cache offers Meade in Les vêpres siciliennes, along with a complementary I vespri siciliani starring Carol Vaness, another favorite American soprano.

Many of Meade’s most noteworthy performances occurred at the Caramoor Festival where she first made a splash in Semiramide in 2009. I attended that performance along with today’s Vêpres, as well as Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia and Bellini’s Il Pirata, all conducted by Will Crutchfield. While I skipped her Norma there, I saw her Met Druid priestess in both 2013 and 2017.

I attended a Don Carlo at the Met last fall when Meade was not in good form although she recovered for a strong final act. However, a friend attended Meade’s La Scala debut in February as Elena in the new Vespri; he thought she was excellent. Unfortunately, it turned out to be her sole Milan appearance as she canceled her second show.

I heard Vaness often but missed her Verdi completely as she performed only one of the composer’s operas at the Met—just four complete performances as Desdemona in the new Otello in 1994—and I heard Fleming later during that run. But in addition to Vespri, the soprano elsewhere sang in La traviata, Macbeth, Un ballo in maschera, Simon Boccanegra, Il trovatore, Don Carlo, Falstaff and Aida (but only as the Priestess!).

The tenors who perform with Meade and Vaness—John Osborn and Chris Merritt, respectively—have more Rossini in common than Verdi.

The Met hasn’t produced Vespri since 2004, though there were rumors that the company would be producing Vêpres in Stefan Herheim’s production. I wonder if that plan has since been dropped.

Verdi: Les Vêpres Siciliennes (with ballet!)

Hélène: Angela Meade
Henri: John Osborn
Guy de Monfort: Marco Nisticò
Procida: Barak Biligi

Conductor: Will Crutchfield

Caramoor Festival
6 July 2013

Verdi: I vespri siciliani

Elena: Carol Vaness
Arrigo: Chris Merritt
Guido di Monforte: Timothy Noble
Giovanni da Procida: James Morris

Conductor: Charles Mackerras

San Francisco Opera
10 September 1993
In-house recording

Each Verdi opera 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 file will appear in your download directory.