La Scala’s recent revival of L’Amore dei tre Re brought Italo Montemezzi’s 1913 opera back once again into the conversation, so Chris’s Cache features three live recordings with casts that include Dorothy Kirsten, Virginia Zeani & Nicola Rossi-Lemeni and Samuel Ramey.

The opera arrived at the Met a year after its premiere starring Lucrezia Bori, Pasquale Amato and Adamo Didur with Arturo Toscanini conducting. Revivals over the next few years featured Claudia Muzio, Florence Easton, Enrico Caruso, and Beniamino Gigli. It opened the 1928-29 season conducted by Tullio Serafin with a cast including Rosa Ponselle, Giovanni Martinelli, and Ezio Pinza, who continued to perform the role Archibaldo until 1941. His last four performances were conducted by the composer and also starred Grace Moore as Fiora. Kirsten, a Moore protégé, lent her poisoned lips to the Met’s final performances to date during the 1947-48 season.

L’Amore’s three acts contain around 100 minutes of music so occasionally it was paired at the Met with another opera—among them Pagliacci, Gianni Schicchi or L’Oracolo. The popularity of L’Amore might suggest why two other Montemezzi operas were performed by the Met during the 1920s: Giovanni Gallurese with Giacomo Lauri-Volpi and La Notte di Zoraima, a one-act which starred Ponselle, both works lasted just five performances.

Beyond today’s San Francisco Opera performance, Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1955 invited Kirsten, Rossi-Lemeni and Serafin to premiere L’Amore with Carlo Bergonzi as Avito several weeks after his US debut there as Luigi in Il tabarro.

New York City Opera revived the opera in 1982 for Ramey who also sang it at Carnegie Hall with Opera Orchestra of New York in 2006. After its flight from Lincoln Center, City Opera revived L’Amore once again in 2018 at the Rose Theater.

Montemezzi: L’Amore dei tre Re

Fiora: Dorothy Kirsten
Avito: Giuseppe Campora
Manfredo: Raymond Wolansky
Archibaldo: Nicolai Ghiuselev

Conductor: Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
San Francisco Opera
15 October 1966
In-house recording

Fiora: Virginia Zeani
Avito: Ennio Buoso
Manfredo: Giulio Fioravanti
Archibaldo: Nicola Rossi Lemeni

Orchestra e Coro Sinfonica di Milano della RAI
Conductor: Maurizio Arena
28 March 1974

Fiora: Paoletta Marroccu
Avito: Antonello Palumbo
Manfredo: Stephan Pyatnychko
Archibaldo: Samuel Ramey

Conductor: Marcello Viotti
Zürich Opera
18 November 2000
In-house recording

Each Montemezzi show can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a box with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

Never miss an episode of Chris’s Cache! Subscribe to this podcast via Apple Podcasts or RSS.