Thursday, January 19, 2012
This season, for the first time since 1998, San Diego Opera will be partnering with KPBS-FM to bring you live broadcasts from the opening night performances of each of our four productions: "Salome" on January 28th, "Moby-Dick" on February 18th, "Don Pasquale" on March 10th and "The Barber of Seville" on April 21st.
All operas are on Saturday evenings and all will be broadcast at 7 p.m., with yours truly as your live radio host. Since these broadcasts will carried to you directly from the actual performance at the Civic Theatre, you’ll feel all the excitement occurring onstage amongst the performers, the orchestra and the stage crew as well as in the audience as they anticipate and experience international opera on a grand scale.
The operas are a mixture of old and new. "Salome" (1905) hasn’t been staged by our company since that 1998 season and it’s a welcome return! Based on the short biblical tale of Herod, his step-daughter Salome and the prophet John the Baptist (as told through the unique prism of Oscar Wilde’s play), I consider this opera a culmination of the ‘horror’ tradition in this wonderful art form, usually seen through Italian eyes: Donizetti’s "Lucia di Lammermoor" or Verdi’s "Rigoletto."
These are operas with shocking plots with characters skulking about in the dark, haunted by their individual demons with, more often than not, a lovely Hitchcockian ‘twist’ at the end.
Jake Heggie (composer) and Gene Scheer (librettist) have composed a stunning opera based on Herman Melville’s "Moby-Dick," and this is our newest repertoire item, having been premiered in 2010. I attended a performance of that first production in Dallas and I must say that I haven’t been as bowled over by an opera premiere before or since.
It’s a brilliant production enhanced by state-of-the-art video projections that give you the feel of being on the whaling ship Pequod in the middle of the South Pacific. And the music is accessible, redolent of the open sea, extraordinarily tuneful and, at times, overwhelming. This is an opera not to be missed.
Gaetano Donizetti’s "Don Pasquale" (1843) returns after a lengthy hiatus in the terribly funny ‘Wild, Wild, West’ production of stage director David Gately. The story follows the tribulations of the old Pasquale who wishes to marry a young, beautiful bride, and the attempt of his doctor, Malatesta, to get Pasquale’s nephew Ernesto and his lover Norina together in marriage.
The plot revolves around Norina’s ability to pass herself off as the ‘young, beautiful bride’-to-be. No sooner has the ink dried on the (fake) marriage certificate, she turns into Pasquale’s worst nightmare: a shrew of the highest order! The jaunty score perfectly matches this tongue-in-cheek comic gem.
And speaking of comic gems, our season ends with Giacchino Rossini’s "The Barber of Seville" (1816) based on the masterful play by Beaumarchais. Count Almaviva has fallen in love with Rosina from afar, but is blocked in his intentions by the girl’s protector, Dr. Bartolo, who won’t let her out of the house and won’t let anyone near her.
In typical opera buffa style, Almaviva’s servant, the barber Figaro, thrusts the plot forward to try and get the two young lovers together against all odds. Even after nearly 200 years, this opera is still one of the most uproarious musical comedies to stride the stage!
So join me for this fantastic season, won’t you? KPBS-FM will bring you close to the action and I’ll be there with stories, anecdotes and excerpts of interviews from principal artists in the productions. Enjoy San Diego Opera Live! beginning Saturday, January 28th at 7 p.m. I’ll see you at the opera!
San Diego Opera Live will be heard on KPBS 89.5FM, 89.1FM in La Jolla and 97.7 in Imperial Valley or online at kpbs.org. San Diego Opera will also live tweet in real time at San Diego Opera’s twitter feed @_SanDiegoOpera using hashtag #sdolive.